Sep 9, 2008

Building a Better Highway for Mackay Residents

Building a Better Highway for Mackay Residents

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

The Hon Anthony Albanese

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

James Bidgood

Member for Dawson

September 9 2008

Detailed planning for the upgrade of the southern approach to Mackay has commenced, with the Rudd Labor Government providing Queensland $5 million to make sure this necessary work is completed as soon as possible.

Visiting Mackay today, the Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese joined local MP James Bidgood to make this announcement and inspect the site of the proposed $50 million upgrade of the Bruce Highway.

“By starting the critical planning work now, we will be in a position to start delivering on our commitment to increase the capacity along this section of the Bruce Highway at least 12 months earlier than originally anticipated,” said Mr Albanese.

“In fact, all the planning and design work will be completed by the middle of 2009.

“At last year’s election, Labor said it would make tackling congestion and improving safety on our roads a priority. This announcement is proof we are moving quickly to honour that pledge.”

The $50 million project will involve a significant upgrade of the Bruce Highway between Bakers Creek and the City Gates, including the widening of the road from two to four lanes.

Mr Bidgood said the project will go a long way towards addressing the traffic congestion and safety issues being experienced by local motorists.

“The start of planning for this vital project is an exciting development for the City. Once completed, it will deliver safer driving conditions and shorter commute times for local residents,” said Mr Bidgood.

“Already some 15,000 vehicles use this section of Highway everyday – a figure that’s likely to grow significantly in the coming years.

“By moving forward with this critical project now, we are seeking to plan properly for the anticipated growth in the City’s population and its future transport needs.”

Mackay is home to over 84,000 residents and is growing at an annual rate of almost three per cent.

Mr Albanese said the planning study gets this project rolling and will provide a firm picture of what needs to be done.

“Importantly this work will identify a preferred option for progressing the project to the construction phase – one which the local community will be consulted about,” said Mr Albanese.

Funding for the Bakers Creek to City Gates project is part of the Rudd Labor Government’s plan to invest $2.2 billion between 2009 and 2014 on improving the condition and capacity of the Bruce Highway.

“It is no longer good enough that this highway of national significance is little more than a ‘goat track’ in parts and inadequate for the volume of traffic it will be expected to carry over coming decades,” said Mr Albanese.

“For a large, decentralised and rapidly growing state like Queensland, modern well-planned roads are essential. Such infrastructure prevents traffic congestion, cuts commuting times, improves safety, supports export industries and reduces harmful carbon emissions.”