$650m spent on highway, but is it worth it?

Bruce Highway.
Bruce Highway. Nicky Moffat

THE Bruce Hwy continues to suck up taxpayer dollars, with $649 million spent over the past 10 years between Gin Gin and Rockhampton.

Gladstone freight companies who rely on the Bruce Hwy for daily transport services feel ripped off, and road users are calling for a dual carriageway to fix congestion once and for all.

Keith's Tilt Trays and Transport Services has operated in the Gladstone region for more than 20 years and has up to 28 truck drivers on the Bruce Hwy between Gin Gin and Rockhampton every day.

Owner and manager Keith Morris said constant roadworks had cost his business big.

"I feel ripped off - we're still being held up," he said.

"A lot of these long-haulage trips are being calculated on a per-kilometre basis.

"It adds hours to the time a trip takes, which is dead money to us."

He said the Bruce Hwy was a lot less rough now than a decade ago, and he believed the funds were leading to improvements.

$300m more destined for Bruce Hwy

Well-worn travellers call for redesign

But Mr Morris also said the lack of co-ordination between "stop and go" staff at roadwork sites was frustrating, and a lot of money was wasted on the same sections of road being patched and re-patched.

"Delays, well they were terrible because they built and rebuilt some of them three or four times," Mr Morris said.

"The other side of Miriam Vale - they built it up a bit but it all kept sinking."

A Department of Transport and Main Roads representative said major projects such as the Calliope Crossroads interchange had been completed, and works were ongoing, with more than $300 million in major projects scheduled for the coming five years.

Major works also included natural disaster reconstruction works totalling $110 million in 2010-2011 and $126 million in 2012-2013.

$300m more destined for Bruce Hwy

MORE than $300 million will be spent on major projects along the Bruce Hwy between Gin Gin and Rockhampton in the coming five years.

These include the Yeppen flood plain elevated crossing south of Rockhampton, which will see a section of dual carriageway built and is due for completion in November 2016.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport and Main Roads said Old Coach Rd would also receive upgrades, with $20.5 million scheduled to be spent at the section of road south of the Bruce Hwy.

An upgrade of Cabbage Tree Creek, 8km north of Gin Gin, is due for completion in late 2014.

The RACQ said calls for a dual-lane carriageway between Gin Gin and Rockhampton were warranted, but the state and federal governments should be given credit for their combined $8.5 billion investment in Bruce Hwy works promised over the next 10 years.

RACQ's Michael Roth said because the Bruce Hwy was 1650km long, and because traffic was worse at its southern end, these areas would be likely to receive two lanes first.

Mr Roth said smaller-scale safety upgrades, such as wider median strips to separate traffic and reduce the frequency of head-on collisions, were a more urgent priority.

Well-worn travellers call for redesign

BRUCE Hwy user Wayne Ford said it was no good fixing potholes every year, and called for a major redesign of the highway into a dual carriageway.

UPGRADE NEEDED: Wayne Ford says the Bruce Highway needs two lanes.
UPGRADE NEEDED: Wayne Ford says the Bruce Highway needs two lanes. Nicky Moffat

Figures released by the Department of Transport and Main Roads show tens of millions of dollars have been spent in the past decade on maintenance and rehabilitation of existing links.

"They're spending a lot of money now, but it's all patch-up works," the Gladstone resident said yesterday

"They should have put in a two-lane highway all the way from Brisbane to Cairns - they should have done that in the first place."

A dual-lane carriageway should be built as a priority, Mr Ford said, because "the Bruce Hwy is a killer".

"Safety issues concern me immensely," said the 68-year-old, who believed congestion on the single lane highway was extremely dangerous.

"People get impatient to pass (others).

"They do some crazy moves when they're frustrated and impatient."

Gladstone residents Sherron Wolf and Barry Hines agreed a dual carriageway would be a solution to congestion and would help improve safety.

Mr Hines said the $649 million spent on the highway over the past decade was nowhere near enough.

Topics:  bruce highway gin gin gladstone queensland road works

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