Hwy plan 'still not enough'

THE Queensland Government yesterday launched three ambitious plans for the future of Queensland, including detailed planning announcements for Gympie and its Wide Bay Region.

Prominent in yesterday’s swag of big announcements was a 20-year plan for the Bruce Hwy, a plan involving 60 major projects to help boost the highway’s flood, efficiency and safety credentials.

The announcement gave timetables not only for the highway to Gympie’s south but for duplication to four lanes of the route from Gympie to Maryborough – an already inadequate road which will be even more so when it has to cope with volumes of high-speed traffic from an upgraded Cooroy to Curra section.

Duplication of the Gympie to Maryborough section will take 11 to 20 years according to the plan.

The work will include a bypass of Tiaro and an upgrade of the Tinana interchange and will aim to “improve road safety, flood immunity and transport efficiency”.

The road is currently “unable to cater safely for traffic growth,” the plan says.

The plan estimates one to four years to upgrade Section B, currently under construction between Sankeys Rd and Traveston Rd, a 12km job designed to “improve road safety, flood immunity and traffic capacity”.

It admits the “existing two-lane highway (is) unable to safely cater for urban growth north of the Sunshine Coast”.

Section C, 11km from Traveston Rd to Keefton Rd, will “improve immunity from flooding in the Mary River, where closures of up to one week can occur”, but will take 11 to 20 years.

Section D, including the Gympie bypass, will be a 26km motorway, also estimated to take 11 to 20 years.

The timetables announced yesterday prompted Opposition questioning of why the rest of the upgrade is scheduled to take 20 years and an embarrassing comparison with 2006, when Deputy Premier Paul Lucas attacked the Howard government for being seemingly prepared to take 15 years.

“We need the dollars to be put into the bypass as soon as we have the route – not in 10 to 15 years,” Mr Lucas said in February 2006.

Gympie MP David Gibson said the Bligh government had claimed to be announcing work, when it was really announcing delay.

“The report will come as a huge disappointment to local residents who use the highway on a daily basis,” Mr Gibson said.

“Labor now expects them to wait an additional 11 to 20 years for the bypass.”

The plan says the 13km Section A from the Cooroy interchange to Sankeys Rd would take five to 10 years.

But Mr Lucas said yesterday Labor’s efforts on the project were way ahead of anything achieved under the conservatives, especially by Wide Bay federal MP Warren Truss.

“The Howard government gave an average of a woeful $100 million a year for the Bruce Hwy for 12 years.

“A Howard government transport minister, Warren Truss, had the worst stretch of the Bruce Hwy in his electorate and did not move one shovel of dirt to fix it.

“In contrast we have spent $688 million on Cooroy to Curra and have moved five million cubic metres of soil, rock, concrete and asphalt,” he said.

The RACQ’s John Wikman described the plan as “ambitious” but said it needed to be, even if there was some doubt about where funding would come from.

“A four-lane road is still up to 20 years away. I would want it now,” he said.

“It should be brought forward.”

The announcements said highway and other road improvements would support continuing economic growth in the region.

Gympie Times

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