Yeppen highway's disruption point

A GOVERNMENT report, which estimates it will cost a staggering $5.3 billion to flood-proof the Bruce Highway from Brisbane to Cairns, has identified the Yeppen Flood Plain as the major point of disruption.

The report, prepared by the state’s investment funding unit and released by Main Roads Minister Craig Wallace, says there are 36 sites where disruptive flooding has occurred but only four where the road has ever been closed for more than five days.

In January, when the Fitzroy River burst its banks, the road was cut at Yeppen for 13 days and two hours – more than twice as long as any other point along the 1600 kilometre route.

Mr Wallace said the report was sobering and proved there would have to be a generational commitment from both sides of politics in Canberra to fix the problem.

“What we have experienced this wet season is a symptom of the neglect of our national highway in Queensland by both sides of Federal politics for the past 40 years,” he said.

He stressed that the $5.3 billion was the estimated cost for improving flood immunity only and did not include the price of upgrading or widening it to cater for increased traffic.

A total of $5.3 billion is obviously a massive request. That’s why we need both sides in Canberra to commit over a generation to fix this problem once and for all.

“It is extremely frustrating for me to see my crews patch a road that has gone under during flooding to know that we will have to do the same job next time we have heavy rain.”

Mayor Brad Carter said the report highlighted how important it was to treat the Yeppen Flood Plain as a major priority.

“It shouldn’t be looked at as a cost, but as a worthwhile investment. We need to have bipartisan support to get the highway through our region flood-proofed at the earliest opportunity,” he said.

“I would like to see work start on phase one in the next financial year and for Rockhampton to be free from the threat of isolation in floods within five years.

“I think it that’s an achievable target and I think there is enough across the board support to make it happen.”

The report costs the flood-proofing of the highway between Gympie and Mackay at $1.3 billion and says in addition to the Yeppen Flood Plain the road can be cut by flooding at Marlborough Creek, St Arnauds Creek, Six Mile Creek and 12 Mile Creek in the Rockhampton region.

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