Bruce Hwy bypass: from pie-in-sky to 'highest priority'
COMPLETING the final leg of the 60km, Bruce Highway upgrade will be the biggest and most expensive part of a project that has already cost $1 billion.
Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien's office confirmed yesterday the detailed design of Section D of the Cooroy to Curra Bypass, which will join Section C at Woondum and the old Bruce Highway north of Gympie near Harvey Siding, was well on track and should be finished early in the new year.
More than $40 million has been spent buying up properties east of Gympie through which the final leg will stretch. Another $52 million has been spent planning and designing Section D.
This document will include the final expected cost and enable the State and Federal Governments to budget for their 20 per cent and 80 per cent contributions respectively.
This 26km highway section will include the bypass of Gympie, with the corridor running close to the railway line until Old Maryborough Road.
It will then travel through the edge of the Curra State Forest to minimise the impact on private land. What once appeared many years off is now looming large.
The new state Transport Minister has been urged by Federal Minister Darren Chester to put a business case to Infrastructure Australia as soon as possible once the election result is made official.
Mr Chester just this month declared that funding for Section D was "highest priority for future Bruce Highway projects".
Queensland Labor last month unveiled its billion dollar a year vision to upgrade the Bruce Highway and announced its commitment to deliver the missing link of the Cooroy to Curra project.
Section A commenced in July 2013 and was completed in May 2017. Section B started in 2009 and finished in December 2012, and Section C will be finished early next year, though it is already partially open to traffic.
Gympie will be a very different place without the Bruce Highway running through its heart, and just what the impact will be on the many millions of dollars worth of businesses that line it remains to be seen.