Feds look at inland

THE Australian Government would investigate any proposal to create an inland highway from Brisbane to Sydney based on the Summerland Way, Federal Minister for Transport and Regional Services Warren Truss has announced.

Mr Truss said while no detailed information had been compiled, the Federal Government would look at any proposal to create a route based on upgrading the Summerland Way between Grafton and Casino.

"I'm advised that the NSW RTA is currently investigating the inland route based on the existing Summerland Way," he said.

"I would welcome further information being provided by the NSW Government once the investigation has been finalised.

"As with all new proposals it will be important to consider the implications a new route might mean for business and communities, the physical challenges of building the route and of course their cost effectiveness."

A RTA spokesperson said a report on the proposal was being prepared after the organisation was directed to look into a possible upgrade by former Roads Minister Joe Tripodi.

The Nationals Ballina MP Don Page, who was the first North Coast MP to push for such a route, said the Federal Government were impressed with the argument put forward by their state counterparts.

"We spoke to senior policy advisors to the Minister for Roads and walked them through it and they were quite impressed by the submission," he said.

"I think that is the main reason why the Federal Government has come out and said they are interested in looking at the inland route."

Mr Page said the submission showed that a Summerland Way upgrade would be much cheaper than an upgrade of the Pacific Highway.

"We estimate it would be half the costs and completed twice as quickly, mainly because the government already owns the Grafton to Casino corridor which is wide enough to accommodate a dual carriageway."

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