WYONG mayor Doug Eaton says a light rail project linking Gosford and The Entrance is not only a great idea, but even the Prime Minister is “enthusiastic”.
While Cr Eaton’s latest big proposal has raised eyebrows, and drawn outright criticism from Gosford deputy mayor Craig Doyle, Cr Eaton wrote in a mayoral minute to be discussed by Wyong councillors next week that he had already raised the project with Malcolm Turnbull.
”Fortunately a month or so ago I was at a function with Prime Minister Turnbull where I was able to introduce this project to him and he was interested and enthusiastic,” Cr Eaton said.
A light rail service between Gosford and The Entrance – a trip of between 15 and 20 kilometres that Cr Eaton proposes would “stop at Gosford Hospital and possible stabling yards at West Gosford” – would qualify for Mr Turnbull’s Smart Cities funding, he said.
The central business district of Gosford and the resort area of The Entrance, in Wyong Shire, are currently linked by the Central Coast Highway.
“Smart Cities allocates $50 million of federal money for planning of major transformational infrastructure projects including urban rail,” Cr Eaton said in his mayoral minute.
“Clearly our Central Coast light rail project falls within this definition and planning money should be available form this fund.”
But Cr Doyle said on Friday that it was the first he had heard of the proposal.
“There’s been no consultation with Gosford, and I doubt that there’s been any meaningful dialogue with the federal or state governments either,” Cr Doyle said.
“This is just another one of Doug’s projects that will never happen, like his regional airport and regional university. We’re more likely to see Thomas the Tank Engine coming through here than Doug’s light rail.”
Cr Eaton said the Smart Cities plan highlighted the Gold Coast light rail project as an example of a project that could be supported.
“It notes this was partly funded by Gold Coast council under a levy on property that benefited,” Cr Eaton said.
“In its first year of operation this project delivered a 25 per cent increase in public transport to the region.”
The amalgamation of Gosford and Wyong councils, which was enthusiastically supported by Cr Eaton, would assist the Central Coast take advantage of government funding opportunities, he said.
“Smart Cities states that regional cities, where there is a single local government responsible for metro planning, are especially well placed to negotiate these city deals.
“Clearly the soon to be formed Central Coast city council is such a body.”