Fifty extra overtaking lanes will be built and key projects including the Wrights Creek Bridge upgrade will be brought forward under the Bligh Government’s visionary plan for the Bruce Highway.

Local Government Minister Paul Lucas and Main Roads Minister Craig Wallace launched the 20 year Bruce Highway Upgrade Strategy in Cairns today.

“Our ultimate vision is for a four-lane Bruce Highway, from Cairns to Gympie, and this visionary plan puts us on track to achieve that for future generations,” Mr Lucas said.

“This comprehensive plan will take the Bruce Highway to 2031 and beyond, ensuring it meets the needs of Queensland motorists into the short, medium and long-term.

“Queensland is Australia’s most decentralised state with large population centres up and down the coast.

“The Bruce Highway is a vital artery with more than 110,000 vehicles using the network at its southern end, to 55,000 vehicles on the southern access to Cairns and an average of 35,000 in and around major regional centres each day.

“That’s more than 40 million vehicle trips a year just in South East Queensland and around 14 million vehicle trips in major regional centres in areas like Cairns, Townsville, Mackay and Rockhampton every year.

“One of the most exciting changes in the final document is an additional 50 overtaking lanes to be built between Cairns and Gympie in one to four years.

“Following community feedback, we will be bringing forward the Wrights Creek Bridge upgrade in Far North Queensland from a five to ten year timeframe for delivery, to a one to four year timeframe.

“Planning is already underway for the Wrights Creek Bridge upgrade after the State Government brought forward funding for it and I’m pleased to announce construction will start late next year after the Federal Government advised they will fund the project.

“We are also bringing forward the Cooroy to Curra Section C project from 11 to 20 years, to five to ten years.

“All up, our plan identifies 110 priorities to ensure the Bruce Highway will serve Queenslanders for decades to come.

“This strategy builds on Labor’s already significant investment in projects such as the $42 million Mulgrave River Bridge at Gordonvale, $162 million upgrade from Corduroy Creek to Tully, $13 million worth of work on the southern approach to Mackay and the $52 million upgrade from Woodlands to Veales Road north of Townsville.

“The strategy is designed to be user-friendly and accessible on the internet to anyone, with details of individual projects.

“The Bligh Government’s Bruce Highway Upgrade Strategy is in marked contrast to Campbell Newman’s announcement on August 17 that he wouldn’t have a Bruce Highway strategy until six months after the election.

“With Labor what you see is what you get, $2.3 billion spent on the Bruce Highway in five years, together with our plans for the future unveiled in this document today.

“The Bruce Highway Strategy identifies projects in three categories; those that improve safety, those that improve flood immunity and those that improve traffic efficiency or a combination of the three.

“Our plan will make the highway safer, more efficient, more reliable and more resilient to wet weather.”

Main Roads Minister Craig Wallace said more than 450 Queenslanders attended information forums during the consultation period.

“We’ve heard from mums and dads in Cairns, truckies in Townsville and tourist operators in the Whitsunday region, and their valuable feedback has helped shape our final plan,” Mr Wallace said.

“Queenslanders have told us that they’re unhappy with many aspects of the Bruce Highway and so are we, that’s why we’ve developed this 20 year plan.

“This is in stark contrast to Campbell Newman’s LNP, who have admitted they will not reveal their plan for the Bruce until after an election and haven’t committed to funding any projects along its length.

“This strategy is about being smart, planning for the future and delivering in stages to meet demand.

“We would obviously rely on Federal funding to see the majority of these projects come to fruition but we will never stop fighting for money for Bruce Highway upgrades because we know how important this road is to Queensland.”

Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt welcomed the bringing forward of the Wrights Creek Bridge project south of Edmonton.

“The Wrights Creek Bridge upgrade is an important project for the Cairns region and I’m thrilled it’s been recognised as a high priority in the final document,” Mr Pitt said.

“The Federal Government has recently confirmed they’ll be providing the funding for this project, meaning it’s a massive step closer to becoming a reality.”

The Bruce Highway Upgrade Strategy at a glance:

  • up to 340 kilometres of highway duplication;
  • bridge replacements to improve flood immunity;
  • intersection upgrades, extra overtaking opportunities and other important improvements.
  • short (1-4 years) medium (5 to 10) and long-term (11-20 year) priorities to improve safety, capacity and flood immunity
  • a focus on the six key regional economic hubs along the highway: Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Gympie and South East Queensland
  • 10 proposed ring roads, bypasses and deviations along the length of the highway to improve liveability of our communities and efficiency for freight movements.

Major Bruce Highway projects recently completed include:

  • $42 million Mulgrave River Bridge and approaches
  • $162 million Tully Flats realignment and upgrade
  • $29 million 3-kilometre flood immunity upgrade at Ingham
  • $52 million widening from two lanes to four lanes from Woodlands to Veales Road
  • $117 million Townsville Ring Road (Stages Two and Three)
  • $44 million Burdekin River Bridge Rehabilitation
  • $4 million Mackay Urban Congestion Study
  • $13 million Farrellys Lane/Schmidtke Road duplication and upgrade
  • $9.5 million Yaamba Road/Main Street intersection and pedestrian bridge
  • $71 million Gympie Duplication
  • $114 million widening of Boundary Road to Uhlmann Road from four lanes to six lanes
  • $205 million widening of Uhlmann Road to Caboolture turn-off from four lanes to six lanes, including duplication of Caboolture River bridge
  • $35 million Nambour Bypass pavement upgrade

Major Bruce Highway projects currently underway include:

  • Cooroy to Curra upgrade – Section B (north of Cooroy)
  • Miriam Vale to St Lawrence overtaking lanes
  • Sarina southern access upgrade
  • Mackay southern access upgrade
  • Townsville Douglas Arterial Duplication
  • Cardwell Range realignment