Rockhampton flood-proof plan gets green light
THE long-awaited upgrade to "flood proof'' the Bruce Highway into Rockhampton took a leap forward yesterday with the Federal Government flicking a $5 million green light to make the project "shovel ready''.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese announced the $5m to pay for "detailed planning'' on the much-anticipated crossing over the Yeppen Flood Plain.
The upgrade between the Burnett Highway and the Yeppen Roundabout would include two new, raised northbound lanes and a new 1.6km long bridge.
The release of the final Fitzroy River Floodplain and Road Planning Study and its key recommendations also confirms a future western bypass (see graphic) north of the airport.
This critical announcement comes two years after Rockhampton was cut off for two weeks in the 2011 floods.
The funding and the final report are positive steps for the Central Queensland community but the date of the project's completion remains clouded.
Mr Albanese's statement gave no indication of the timing for the start of construction and this could mean the Federal and State governments are still thrashing out their share of funding responsibilities.
It's believed the project will cost between $280m and $500m based on previous estimates from a range of stakeholders.
"With major projects like this, it's important we get the planning right," Mr Albanese said.
"The Fitzroy River Floodplain and Road Planning Study is the product of exhaustive preliminary planning work and extensive community consultation, including with the Queensland Government.
"This detailed planning work will now be expedited and will form the basis of any future funding."
He said "a road can never be made 100% flood proof'' but the planned project could greatly improve flood immunity "to make it shovel ready".
Member for Capricornia Kirsten Livermore - who secured initial $5m funding for the Yeppen Flood Plain Study in 2009 - would be disappointed that her vision for the future transport corridor south of the city was rejected but was philosophical about the final study's recommendations.
"It's important now we get on with it," she said.
"Overall, the report may not be the result that some locals were hoping for, but we can all agree that we need to take action to reduce the time the Bruce Highway could be cut in the future.
"We can't have this section of the Bruce Highway cut for that length of time again; it is devastating for the local community as well as our nation's productivity, as it brings the movement of people, freight and services to a full stop.
"During the January 2011 floods when the road was cut for over two weeks, I spoke to people all across the region who suffered from the Bruce Highway being cut off.
"People could not get to work; freight and supplies could not get out to our local communities; and some businesses even had trouble paying their staff as they could not operate as normal.
"We need to do everything we can to minimise the impact of any future floods on our community and it is time we got this section ready for construction."
Work is already well advanced on Stage One of the Yeppen Flood Plain upgrade with the construction of a new $85m bridge across the Yeppen Lagoon - which is on track to be completed this year.
More to come
The Morning Bulletin will investigate the Yeppen Flood Plain Study as soon as it becomes available and report on our findings.