Transport Minister Eric Charlton said today a steering group had been appointed to oversee a masterplan for Geraldton's Southern Transport Corridor, a project which would provide the city with a unique opportunity to redefine its future development.
"The State Government has endorsed in principle the construction of this project but we need important detailed information from a range of sources, including community groups on how best to proceed," Mr Charlton said.
Mr Charlton said the masterplan would accurately define the alignment for the road and rail corridor to secure safe, long-term access to the Port of Geraldton by providing full and comprehensive consultation with the community.
"The Mid-West is on the move and projects like the proposed Oakajee development will complement activities at the Port of Geraldton and provide it with an opportunity to increase its own throughput," he said.
"The Port of Geraldton is there for the long term and we need to push ahead with a more efficient access route which takes heavy vehicle road traffic away from the potentially hazardous steep gradients and residential areas," he said.
Mr Charlton said the Southern Transport Corridor would be a major boost for Geraldton because it would allow the removal of the current rail alignment along the foreshore and give the city a unique opportunity to redefine its future redevelopment.
"Removing the line from the foreshore will enable attractive development of the central business district, including the marina, and make current proposals to develop a major hotel and museum more attractive," he said.
"The corridor will minimise the impact of port haulage vehicles on residential areas and the city's central business district." Mr Charlton said the project steering group included representitives from the Department of Transport, Main Roads WA, Westrail, the Mid West Development Commission, Ministry for Planning, the City of Geraldton and the Shire of Greenough.
"This masterplan will firm up the concept of the new corridor, develop preliminary designs for road and rail works, undertake environmental studies and carry out community consultation. It will also identify further work to be done," he said.
Mr Charlton invited the community to play a role in developing the masterplan by nominating representitives for the 12-15 person Community Industry Liaison Group.
"We want the community involved in planning for this project which we believe will provide tremendous impetus for Geraldton," he said.
"There is a special freecall 1800 number (1800 653 031) for people to have their say or to ask questions about the proposal.
"I am confident that the masterplan process will clear up any confusion in the Geraldton community regarding the Government's plans for the port and its access arrangements as well as other complementary road projects to link with the Oakajee development," the Minister said.
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