Scenes like this are becoming too familiar on the Bruce Highway which has claimed 20 lives in Central Queensland this year.
Scenes like this are becoming too familiar on the Bruce Highway which has claimed 20 lives in Central Queensland this year. Robyne Cuerel

State Government releases Bruce Highway Action Plan

The Bruce Highway has claimed 20 lives in Central Queensland alone this year and the RACQ predicts 300-400 more lives will be lost over the next 10 years if the Federal Government doesn't fulfill its national highway obligations.

The Newman Government today launched its 10-year plan to repair, improve and flood-proof the Bruce, but the allocation of an additional $1 billion in funding is dependant on the Federal Government funding 86% of additional projects.

Transport and Main Roads Minister, Scott Emerson said the plan, titled Out of the Crisis, identified more than

50capacity and flood mitigation projects and hundreds of kilometres of safety treatments to be delivered during the next 10 years.

"We are ready to start work as soon as funding is secured.

"If the Federal Government commits to its usual funding split, Queenslanders can expect to see an additional $500-$600 million a year towards significant improvements to the Bruce," said Mr Emerson.

As well as being a serious threat to lives, the Bruce Highway was cut by floodwaters more than 500 times in two years during 2009-11.

Over 80% of the 1677km highway from Brisbane to Cairns remains two lanes.

Proposed Projects

• $5.2 billion worth of safety improvements, including wide centre line and shoulder seals, audible edge lines, more overtaking lanes, safety barriers, intersection improvements, verge clearing, improved rest areas and critical maintenance to catch up on the backlog of maintenance on the highway

• $3.6 billion worth of flood immunity improvements, including raised embankments, culverts, bridges, bypasses, vegetation clearing and flood warning systems

• $8 billion worth of capacity improvements, including new alignments, extra lanes, intersections, service roads and town bypasses.

Rockhampton Region projects:

- Yeppen floodplain south upgrade (flooding)
- Rockhampton North Access Upgrade - Stage 1 (capacity, safety)

Member for Keppel, Bruce Young

Mr Young said this morning the Rockhampton North upgrade is an absolute disgrace and full of potholes.

"Heavy vehicles leaving the Parkhurst Industrial Estate find it very hard to turn right. 

"With industries like Joy Mining, Queensland Magnesium and a whole host of industries coming off Featherstone St, and the Parkhurst State School and the Heritage Village in the area, this section is in need of urgent upgrade.

"In 2011, Rockhampton was cut off for 12 days and studies have shown the cost of flood events far outweighed the cost of upgrading the Bruce Highway in the Rockhampton region.

Mr Young said the Federal Government committed $85 million to the Yeppen Crossing but now it is necessary to do the 'missing link', a 2.5km stretch of road between the roundabout and Egan's Hill.

"In 1991 we were cut off for weeks.  Industry can't afford that and the onus is on Mr Albanese to consider the missing link.

"Did anyone consider the cost road transport going via Emerald and Barcaldine to go north and the damage to those roads by heavy vehicles?

"Queensland is cut in half by the Yeppen Flood Plain," he said.

The Bruce Highway is the economic driver for industry in Central Queensland and Mr Young said it needs a high priority.

"It also seriously undermines the development of the Gracemere Industrial Area…workers in Rocky won't be able to access Gracemere if this isn't completed." 

Federal Government Response

Federal Transport and Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese this afternoon said he would consider the Bruce Highway Action Plan as the Government continued to negotiate with the Queensland Government over details of the next five-year Nation Building Program.

"But we didn't need another report to know that after more than a decade of neglect under our predecessors, the Bruce Highway is not up to scratch," he said.

"That's why this Federal Labor Government has already significantly increased funding to an unprecedented $2.8 billion over six years. 

"To put that into perspective, the former Howard Government put in just $1.3 billion over twelve years.
Mr Albanese said the Federal Government had provided $332 million this year while the Newman Government put in only $83 million.

"Right now, hundreds of workers are onsite rebuilding more than 100 kilometres of highway.

"So, if Deputy Premier, Jeff Seeney genuinely believes Queensland is being short-changed now, he must have been beside himself with rage every time the former Howard Government brought down a budget."

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