Bruce Highway upgrades will come for CQ, major parties claim
THE BRUCE Highway is the main artery servicing coastal Queensland and is in desperate need of upgrading in Central Queensland, with both major political parties promising to deliver.
Named after former sugar farmer come politician Henry Adam Bruce, the 1677km bitumen lifeline stretches from Brisbane to Cairns, and claimed a large percentage of the 219 fatalities on Queensland roads last year.
In the 2015 Australian Infrastructure Audit, the highway’s roles in connecting regional centres and enabling significant freight movement were identified as key regional priorities for Queensland.
Previously touted as the ‘Highway of Shame’, due to 761 crashes over 13 years, major upgrades began in 2013, with $12.6 billion pledged for works up until 2028.
The current funding arrangement for upgrades is 80:20 Federal to State, with the Commonwealth government committing $10 billion and the State $1.8 billion, plus $200 million per-year, to improve the highway.
This will still see large portions of the dangerous highway remaining single carriageway.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the government had locked in the $12.6 billion pledged for Bruce Highway upgrades, including $3 million worth of current work in CQ.
“Under the Bruce Highway upgrade program, 51 bridges, 27 new rest stops, 122km safer roadsides and 154km of wide centre-line treatments have been delivered,” he said.
“These upgrades have led to safer roads, with a 44.2 per cent reduction in the number of fatal crashes compared to before the upgrade program began.
“Labor has a pipeline of upgrades for the next 15 years along the Bruce Highway with projects like the $1 billion Rockhampton Ring Road next off the rank.
Mr Bailey said more could be done, which was why the government established the Bruce Highway Trust.
“The Trust is made up of peak transport groups, including the Queensland Trucking Association and RACQ, who will help develop a longer-term plan for jobs and upgrades,” he said.
“Under the Trust established by the Palaszczuk Government, we’re committed to $1 billion in joint funding being locked in every year for more overtaking lanes, turning lanes, safety barriers and wider centre lines.”
Shadow Transport Minister Steve Minnikin said if elected, the LNP would continue to build on the work and commitments of the Federal Government.
“Unlike Labor, the LNP understands the importance of the Bruce Highway for regional jobs and communities,” he said.
“The last LNP Government secured and implemented an $8.5bn Bruce Highway Action Plan to transform large stretches of the highway and the next LNP Government will build on that record.”
Mr Minnikin said a promise to create a Bruce Highway Trust in 2017 took three years to come to fruition.
“In the 2017 state election campaign Labor promised to create a Bruce Highway Trust to provide a plan for the highway and oversee investment,” he said.
“The trust met for the first time last month – almost three years after Labor’s announcement.
“The delay was a disgrace, but at least it showed regional Queenslanders how little Labor cares about the Bruce.
“And it’s shocking that no representative from north of Gympie has been appointed to Labor’s trust.