Minister trucks it along the Bruce
TRAVELLING in a B-double truck loaded with beer kegs with music hits from the '70s and '80s cranked up, Wednesday was not an average day for Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson.
Mr Emerson took a ride on the wild side of the Bruce Hwy as a passenger on a lengthy journey from Brisbane to Rockhampton.
Setting aside three days from his schedule for a road trip across Central Queensland wasn't easy, but Mr Emerson said he was excited to be out of the office.
Mr Emerson described the 1700km highway as the "lifeline of the state".
The State Government has allocated $415 million for the highway, and part of the LNP's election promise was to front $200 million if the Federal Government matched it.
Mr Emerson identified capacity, safety and flood mitigation as three main areas to address for the highway when he spoke with The Morning Bulletin on a quick pit stop in Gracemere yesterday at 7am.
He toured the $50m Gracemere Industrial Access Project with Transport and Main Roads regional director Terry Hill and other project managers.
While Mr Emerson said there was much to be done on some areas of the highway, he said the Gracemere project was well underway.
The first bridge deck sections above Somerset Rd and the Blackwater Rail Corridor are now in place and Mr Emerson said the road and rail overpass was set to open in February 2013.
"The overpass bridge rising from the ground means we are closer to fixing two of Queensland's most dangerous level crossings and providing safe all-hour access into the new industrial area," Mr Emerson said.
The final overpass section above the Capricorn Hwy will be lifted into place later this month.
Rockhampton Regional Council is already tagging the nearby Gracemere Industrial Area as one of the region's most important projects.
The minister traded his passenger seat in the B-double for one in a white car for the next leg of his journey to Emerald and Longreach yesterday.
Mr Emerson will visit Main Roads staff, but said no employees had approached him about job cut concerns as yet.
"It was not something we wanted to do," he said.
"I can understand people will feel concerned."
Mr Emerson said the axings of jobs within RoadTek, a commercial branch of Main Roads, aimed to reduce clashes between the private and public sector.