Apr 25, 2013

Opinion Piece – Historic investment in Queensland’s Bruce Highway – Sunshine Coast Daily

Last year, I proudly opened the Cooroy to Curra section B of the Bruce Highway, 12 kilometres of dual lane highway between Sankeys Road and Traveston Road. This vital section of road was promised, funded, built and opened during the last five years of the Federal Labor Government. It is just one example of our record investment in the Bruce Highway that is turning around a decade of neglect by the former government.

The bulldozers will move in soon to connect the new stretch of road to Cooroy. When completed, 65 kilometres of straight, safe duplicated road between Curra and Cooroy will replace a windy, single lane road that since 2000 has claimed the lives of at least 50 people.

The latest work is part of a $4.1 billion commitment by Federal Labor over the next decade to make the Bruce safe, flood-proof it where possible and bring it up to a 21st century standard. The Bruce is Queensland’s transport lifeline. It is also its economic lifeline. Half a million Queenslanders use it every day to see family, do business and simply get around.

This $4.1 billion investment is historic. It is unmatched by any previous Australian Government and takes our investment in the Bruce to $5.7 billion. This is in stark contrast to the former Government’s mere $1.3 billion over 12 years in office.

Right now, there are hundreds of people at work along the highway, upgrading intersections, building interchanges, straightening steep bends and raising roads to curb flooding. They are installing 50 new overtaking lanes so that drivers can safely pass each other. They are repairing 110 black spots, all nominated by the Queensland Government as dangerous and accident prone. And they are building or improving 35 rest areas so that truck drivers can pull over and catch up on sleep, making the road safer for all of us. These road improvements cut travel times and accidents, making life easier and safer for everyone.

Not only does investing in roads make them safer, it also makes them more productive. Last year alone, national road improvements saved the road freight industry a collective $600 million. This newly-announced ten-year package for the Bruce Highway will see new road works from Cairns in the north right down to the Sunshine Coast. Included in the program will be:

  • a major North Queensland flood immunity package between Bowen and Ingham with new higher, longer bridges at Haughton River, Cattle Creek, Frances Creek, Sandy Gully Bridge and Yellow Gin Creek Bridge;
  • widening of the Cairns Southern Access Corridor between Robert Road and Mulgrave Road/Ray Jones Drive from four to six lanes, building on current work between Sheehy Road to Ray Jones Road;
  • finalise the planning, followed by construction of a 28 kilometre ring road around Mackay;
  • widening from four to six lanes from the end of Ron Camm Bridge to north of Mackay Bucasia Road near the Davey Street overpass;
  • flood proofing to the Yeppen South floodplain between the Burnett Highway and the Yeppen Roundabout, with two new raised northbound lanes and a new 1.6 kilometre bridge;
  • doubling of lanes along the Rockhampton Northern Access Corridor between Yeppoon Road and Boundary Road with two major intersection upgrades;
  • strengthening and widening of the 80 kilometres of highway between Home Hill and Ingham, and 20 kilometres between St Lawrence and Bowen;
  • a new flyover ramp from the Sunshine Motorway to the Bruce Highway so that motorists can enjoy a non-stop connection, rather than the present congested, circuitous route;
  • replacing 65 kilometres of winding single lane road between Cooroy and Curra with a new four lane (two lanes in each direction) 61 km stretch of duplicated highway. Work has already been completed on the first 12 km stage between Sankeys Rd and Traveston Rd.  In the next couple of months work will start on the 13km section between Cooroy and Sankeys Rd;
  • continuing the Bruce Highway Safety Package of fixing black spots, installing new overtaking lanes, building new rest stops and laying audible edge markings;
  • installing an electronic freeway management system on the Gateway Motorway to Caboolture with variable speed limit signs, entry ramp signalling and live updates on traffic conditions. This technology can speed up traffic flows by 15 per cent, making roads safer and smoother for travellers.

It will be years before we can say about the Bruce Highway ‘the job’s done’. However, Federal Labor has maintained record spending, well beyond what was originally promised when Labor was elected in 2007. The Bruce’s half million daily users deserve nothing less.