The $497.3 million Mackay Ring Road, one of the region’s largest road infrastructure projects, has officially been completed as part of the Bruce Highway Upgrade Program.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, said the Federal Government contributed $397.9 million to the ring road as part of the Bruce Highway Upgrade Program, which is improving safety, capacity and flood resilience between Brisbane and Cairns.

“The 11.3km ring road will make it much easier to travel between the south of Mackay and the northern suburbs. Travel time through the town centre will reduce, particularly at peak times, and heavy vehicles will be removed from the Nebo Road,” Mr McCormack said.

“We are investing in our post-pandemic future by delivering lasting infrastructure which will kick-start our economic recovery and benefit Australians for years to come.

“The Australian Government’s 80 per cent contribution to this project is part of our $100 billion, 10-year infrastructure pipeline which will support our economy and create jobs, particularly for those in the construction and manufacturing industries.”

Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, acknowledged the efforts of local businesses and crews who were able to continue working on the project due to the efforts of Queenslanders in managing the health impacts of COVID-19.

“The Mackay Ring Road will have lasting benefits for the region and its economy for decades to come, but importantly it also created jobs at a time we needed it most,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“We have a plan for economic recovery, and at the heart of that plan is a $50 billion guarantee to invest in large infrastructure projects that will support and sustain jobs for Queenslanders now and into the future.

“That includes this project and the $1 billion being delivered for better roads and jobs in Mackay.”

Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister, Mark Bailey, said the ring road’s nine overpasses and four bridges were game changers that would transform how critical freight and the city’s 116,000-strong community travels.

“More than 80 per cent of people involved in this project were from this region – that includes builders, suppliers, landscapers, engineers and traffic workers,” Mr Bailey said.

“Every one of them played a role in creating a project that will link the region’s $17.4 billion economy to its port, Queensland and the world.

“Their work here paves the way for the region’s next wave of road projects like the $120 million Mackay Northern Access upgrade, Walkerston Bypass and port access road: a $1 billion pipeline of road projects that’ll support another 1,000 jobs.

“Already the first 2.6km of the Walkerston Bypass have now been delivered as part of this project, and we are ramping up to deliver the rest.”

State Member for Mackay, Julieanne Gilbert, heralded the project’s completion as a win for the region, and acknowledged the 1,400-plus local workers who were instrumental in laying 90,000m² of asphalt, 108 T-Girders and 11.3km of new road.

As part of the official opening, Mrs Gilbert helped announce the names of the ring road’s new bridges after the community was invited to provide suggestions for the Pioneer River bridge, and smaller bridges over Lagoon Creek, Fursden Creek and Fursden Creek Overflow.

Suggestions were considered by a naming committee including local historian Berenice Wright OAM, Yuwi custodians Gary Mooney and Patricia Corrie, Gerry Doyle, a retired police officer and volunteer school chaplain, and Taleiyah Minniecon, Mackay 2019 Young Citizen of the Year.

With more than 80 submissions received, the new structures will be named the Greg Sutherland Bridge, the Thomas Powell Bridge, the William and Frank Guthrie Bridge and the Margaret Insch Bridge.

Greg Sutherland was a well-known and respected member of the community, remembered for his contribution to Rugby League and his work with young people.

Greg proudly promoted his South Sea Islander heritage and was recognised as a key advocate for Indigenous, Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander communities, helping improve opportunities for young people with skills training and employee assistance.

The Guthrie brothers helped rebuild the city following the devastating cyclone of 1918, and Margaret Insch was a midwife who delivered 99 babies in the Pioneer Valley in the late 1800s, at times crossing flooded rivers and creeks in the middle of the night to treat those in need.

Thomas Powell was a leader in the sugar industry in the early 1900s and his family still have cane farming land in the area today.

All local workers were acknowledged for their valuable contribution, and were all invited to join the classic car club members to drive along the new road alignment to celebrate the completion.

The Bruce Highway – Mackay Ring Road project was jointly funded by the Federal Government committing $397.9 million and the Queensland Government $99.4 million.

Project fast facts:

  • The 11.3km Mackay Ring Road connects the south of Mackay at Stockroute Road roundabout to the Bruce Highway, north of Mackay near Bald Hill Road
  • The project includes nine overpasses and four bridges
  • Greg Sutherland Bridge, over the Pioneer River, is the largest bridge on the project at 670m long
  • Just one component of the new Greg Sutherland Bridge required the manufacture, transportation and placement of 108 T-Girders, each weighing up to 82 tonnes, measuring 1.8m tall and 35m long
  • All 108 T-Girders were manufactured in a specialist, precast, concrete facility in Rockhampton and transported to Mackay
  • The Greg Sutherland Bridge has been built to withstand a one-in-100-year flood
  • Earthworks: 1,101,126m³
  • Excavation: 241,430m³
  • Drainage installed: 3937m
  • Concrete placed: 12,000m³
  • Asphalt pavement installed: 90,000m²
  • Tonnes of gravel used: 466,787
  • Piling completed: driven 412, bored 50
  • 150 T Girders and 636 deck units installed
  • Approximately 612,738m² of landscaping undertaken
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