Queensland’s billion dollar road upgrades endorsed by Infrastructure Australia

Bruce M1 Highway

Infrastructure Australia (IA) has greenlit $2 billion in Queensland road upgrades, placing the projects on the Infrastructure Priority List.

The Infrastructure Priority List is a pipeline of nationally-significant proposals for governments at all levels to choose from. 

It now includes three new Priority Projects for Queensland: Bruce Highway – Cairns Southern Access Corridor – Stage 3: Edmonton to Gordonvale, M1 Pacific Motorway (Eight Mile Plains to Daisy Hill) and M1 Pacific Motorway (Varsity Lakes to Tugun). 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, welcomed the favourable business case assessments from the nation’s independent infrastructure advisory body.

“The Infrastructure Priority List will now include the Bruce Highway – Edmonton to Gordonvale project, and the M1 Pacific Motorway – Eight Mile Plains to Daisy Hill and Varsity Lakes to Tugun upgrades, as priority projects.

“These major projects have now passed IA’s rigorous business case assessment, confirming their many potential benefits for Queenslanders in terms of busting congestion and delivering safer roads.

“In line with IA’s assessment, we are backing the Cairns region by investing in a four-lane upgrade to the Bruce Highway and service roads between Edmonton and Gordonvale which will bust congestion, reduce local trips taken on the Bruce Highway and tackle the section’s high crash rate of almost double the state average for similar roads.

“The Federal Liberal and Nationals Government has committed up to $384.8 million to this important project, and we are working closely with the Queensland Government to ensure that our combined investment will deliver on the project’s key objectives of improving safety and access.”

Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure, Alan Tudge, said upgrading the M1 Pacific Motorway between Eight Mile Plains and Daisy Hill would reduce congestion at one of the busiest parts of the motorway by widening an 8.5km northbound section and improving local busways.

“This will accommodate 25 per cent more traffic and relieve congestion for decades to come,” Mr Tudge said.

“Meanwhile, the upgrade of the M1 Pacific Motorway between Varsity Lakes and Tugun will bust congestion by widening both sides of the motorway that connects northern New South Wales and the Gold Coast which will support the Gold Coast’s economic development by making travel easier for workers, tourism operators and visitors to the area.

“The Federal Liberal and Nationals Government has a total of $1 billion on the table to fund these two priority upgrades on the M1. It is pleasing to receive IA’s endorsement for these investments, which will make life easier and safer for Queenslanders going about their day-to-day lives.

“I look forward to working with the Deputy Prime Minister and the Queensland Government to progress these and other future infrastructure priorities.”

Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive, Romilly Madew, said, “Being included as a Priority Project on the Infrastructure Priority List shows that a proposal has undergone a rigorous business case assessment and been proven to have significant benefits for the community. 

“This supports better project selection by ensuring Australia’s governments are presented with the best available evidence when making funding decisions.

“With the addition of the Bruce Highway duplication between Edmonton to Gordonvale and upgrades to two sections of the M1 Pacific Motorway – Eight Mile Plains to Daisy Hill and Varsity Lakes to Tugun – the Priority List identifies close to $4 billion worth of nationally-significant projects for Queensland, which are critical to improving both productivity and quality of life.

Ms Madew said that responding to the challenges of growth and capacity constraints on Queensland’s infrastructure networks is a common theme in the latest additions to the Infrastructure Priority List, with improving travel times and road safety a particular focus as congestion increases on key freight and passenger routes.

The Bruce Highway proposal aims to ease capacity constraints by creating a four-lane highway between Edmonton and Gordonvale. This section of the Bruce Highway will cater for significant population growth in Cairns, but drivers already experience significant delays during morning and evening peaks, as well as a high crash rate. Between 2007 and 2012, 79 crashes were reported along this section, almost double the rate reported on similar roads across Queensland.    

The M1 Eight Mile Plains to Daisy Hill upgrade will improve one of the busiest sections of the motorway. 150, 000 vehicles travel on this section of the M1 each day and this will grow to over 200,000 by 2041, driven by population growth in Southeast Queensland. 

With a proposal to widen an 8.5km northbound section of the motorway and improve local busways, the project is expected to help accommodate 25 per cent more traffic and relieve congestion in this area for the next 15–20 years. The project also supports active transport through the provision of an extended cycleway.

The M1 Varsity Lakes to Tugun project proposes to improve a congested section of the motorway that connects northern NSW and the Gold Coast. Increased traffic volumes are causing a high number of accidents and worsening travel times, impacting on local residents travelling to work as well as tourists, tour operators and freight vehicles. 

“Widening the motorway in both directions will reduce congestion along this vital corridor, and support the Gold Coast’s economic development.

Ms Madew said, “We have been pleased to see the Queensland Government submit a large number of business cases to Infrastructure Australia for assessment in recent months. 

“This includes considered proposals that progress the staged upgrade of the Bruce Highway and M1 Pacific Motorway – two key parts of the National Land Transport Network with strategic significance for a growing and changing Australia.”

These new projects along the M1 Pacific Motorway are exepcted to commence construction in mid-2020 following the completion of the M1/M3 Pacific Motorway – Gateway Motorway merge project and the upgrade between Mudgeeraba and Varsity Lakes. 

Pending formal project approval initial work on the Bruce Highway project between Edmonton and Gordonvale is expected to get underway in early 2020 and take around three and a half years to complete.

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