LEICHHARDT MP Warren Entsch is urging the Queensland Government to start planning work on a key Bruce Highway upgrade, so an opportunity to get the work completed sooner is not lost.
The Coalition Government has embarked on 10 year ‘Fix the Bruce Highway’ programme to improve safety on this important stretch of Australia’s national network.
Over $1.3 billion alone is being provided for safety packages to target sections with poor crash histories, widening pavements and creating new overtaking lanes and rest areas.
“Prior to the 2013 Federal election, the Coalition Government agreed to support a $481 million project to improve the Edmonton to Gordonvale section of the highway,” Mr Entsch said today.
“The 5 year average of crashes per kilometre on this 8km section of road is roughly 2.3 times higher than the Bruce Highway as a whole, so it is clearly a priority. Our contribution to this upgrade will be around $385 million.
“The Queensland Government is due to develop a business case for this specific project within the next 24 months, so it can proceed to its originally forecast timeframe of beyond 2019-20.
“However, the Coalition Government has told all the States and Territories that we’re keen to progress infrastructure projects. That being the case, if a request is received from Queensland to bring forward the Edmonton to Gordonvale project, it’ll be considered in the same context as other priorities.”
If the project can be brought forward it would be expected to commence in late 2017/18 and be finished in 2020/21 (a total design and construct time of 3 years).
“I’d strongly encourage the Queensland Government to undertake the detailed planning work that is needed so we can try and speed up the delivery of this project.”
Mr Entsch said that for too long, the Bruce Highway has been recognised as one of the most dangerous highways in the nation.
“Here we have an opportunity to hasten an upgrade of a section that has taken such a toll on the lives, health and property of Far Northerners. Let’s get the ball rolling sooner rather than later.”
The upgrade of the Bruce Highway is a significant investment as a part of the Coalition Government’s $50 billion investment in infrastructure, and will address serious deficiencies that have plagued the highway for too long and which the former Labor government simply paid lip service to.
The programme will see congestion reduced, improvements made in flood immunity and significant safety benefits delivered for both freight and commuters.