Traffic on the Sunshine Motorway merging onto the Bruce Highway.
Traffic on the Sunshine Motorway merging onto the Bruce Highway.

Claims new highway plan is a Trojan horse for development

THE State Government is pursuing a radical plan to build a new highway corridor linking the Coast to north Brisbane.

Sunshine Coast Council councillors will be asked this week to reject the plans to establish an additional arterial road corridor east of the Bruce Highway.

Council officers feared the planning proposal could become a Trojan horse to allow development in the hotly-defended inter-urban break between Caboolture and Caloundra, and the potential impact on the Ramsar-listed Pumicestone Passage.

Councillors will vote on Thursday whether or not to ask the CEO Michael Whittaker to write to the Department of Transport and Main Roads opposing any additional transport corridor to the east of the Bruce Highway and extending from the Sunshine Coast's southern boundary to Bells Creek Rd.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads was undertaking a long-term corridor investigation study looking to provide additional capacity to supplement the existing Bruce Highway, Steve Irwin Way and North Coast Rail Line.

The department's study aimed to build capacity beyond that of a six-lane Bruce Highway.

 

A drawing shows a State Government proposal to build a new road corridor, east of the Bruce Highway, to connect north Brisbane to Bells Creek Arterial Rd.
A drawing shows a State Government proposal to build a new road corridor, east of the Bruce Highway, to connect north Brisbane to Bells Creek Arterial Rd.

The exercise was included in the Queensland Transport and Roads Investment Program 2019-20 to 2022-23 with an expected total planning cost of $650,000.

A presentation by the department's regional director to councillors on April 11 gave no opportunity for the council to present a formal position on the proposal, nor to underscore potential repercussions on its strong aspirations to protect the interurban break in perpetuity for amenity, environmental, cultural and landscape values.

In December, 2014, Sunshine Coast Council and Moreton Bay Regional Council made a joint submission to the SEQ Regional Plan Review seeking permanent preservation of the break.

Council officers preferred a focus on four-laning of the Steve Irwin Way, the upgrade to the North Coast Rail Line and six-laning of the Bruce Highway, measures they say would ensure capacity remained well ahead of demand.

They have also argued that in the case of accidents, traffic could be diverted to a four-lane Steve Irwin Way with upgrading of east/west links at Johnston/Moffat roads, Roys Rd and the future Beerwah East Connection Rd.

The report to councillors to be tabled at Thursday's general council meeting in Caloundra said rail needed to be seen as an attractive viable alternative to the motor vehicle.

"An affordable and sustainable future transport plan must rely more heavily on rail as the highest order mass transit option," it stated.

"Much of the additional capacity of the rail duplication will satisfy a significant growth in freight demand, the major driver for the North Coast rail upgrade."

Technology shifts to connected and autonomous vehicles in the next 20 years would also improve the performance of road networks.



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