Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien .
Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien . Renee Albrecht

O'Brien tables petition that helped fast-track Gympie Bypass

THE Gympie Times electronic petition asking that funding for the final leg of the Gympie Bypass be given top priority was tabled in Federal Parliament this week.

WHERE WILL IT GO? Old DTMR maps could pinpoint exact route of Section D

Deputy PM Michael McCormack, Keith Pitt and Llew O'Brien announce $800 million funding for Section D.
Deputy PM Michael McCormack, Keith Pitt and Llew O'Brien announce $800 million funding for Section D. Scott Kovacevic

Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien tabled the epetition signed by 1252 people, on Tuesday, and thanked The Gympie Times editor Shelley Strachan and everyone who had played their part in bringing the $1 billion project forward five years.

Bruce Highway Upgrade (Cooroy to Curra): key plan
Bruce Highway Upgrade (Cooroy to Curra): key plan Department of Transport and Main

Construction on the 26km Section D is expected to begin late this year, and will take about three years to complete.

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Keith Pitt, Deputy PM Michael McCormack, Shelley Strachan and Llew O'Brien celebrate the announcement of $800 million funding for Section D.
Keith Pitt, Deputy PM Michael McCormack, Shelley Strachan and Llew O'Brien celebrate the announcement of $800 million funding for Section D. Scott Kovacevic

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack was Acting Prime Minister when he visited Gympie in April and announced, with Mr O'Brien, that the funding had been fast-tracked.

"Shelley's petition attracted 1252 signatures and I'm pleased to confirm that the

government has listened to the voice of the community and responded with an $800 million commitment to Section D and to get the job done,” Mr O'Brien told the Parliament.

"I thank everyone who signed Shelley's petition for their support.

Bruce Highway Upgrade (Cooroy to Curra) project overview: map 13
Bruce Highway Upgrade (Cooroy to Curra) project overview: map 13 Department of Transport and Main

"There are many people that I should acknowledge for their help in securing this funding. My predecessor, Warren Truss, began the corridor identification process in 2006.

"When the coalition was returned to government in 2013, Warren made sure funds were allocated to begin the corridor acquisition process and detailed design study. I also thank everyone who contributed to a special book, The Case for Cooroy to Curra Section D.

Bruce Highway Upgrade (Cooroy to Curra) project overview: map 14
Bruce Highway Upgrade (Cooroy to Curra) project overview: map 14 Department of Transport and Main

"The book contained a special report from Scott Rowe and the Wide Bay Burnett Regional Development Australia committee. It also featured letters from Queensland Police traffic accident investigator Sergeant Steve Webb, a good mate of mine, and letters from former editors of the Gympie Times, Michael Roser, Nev McHarg and Craig Warhurst, as well as the current editor, Shelley Strachan, and Fraser Coast Chronicle senior journalist Carlie Walker.

"They all drew on their experience from investigating and reporting on crashes along this deadly stretch of highway and they all made vital contributions to the campaign to secure the funding to fix it.

"I especially thank those people from Gympie who dug deep to share a very sad and traumatic piece of their history that involves the killer highway. Friends of mine Justin Webber, Chris Corliss and Dan Abel contributed their letters addressed to the Prime Minister, which were published in the book, and wrote of the tragic accidents that changed their lives forever.

The Gympie Times campaigned strongly to fast-track funding for Section D - and it paid off big time in April.
The Gympie Times campaigned strongly to fast-track funding for Section D - and it paid off big time in April.

"Your community thanks you for sharing your experiences.

"I recognise the mayors of Gympie, South Burnett, North Burnett and Bundaberg regional councils and former mayor of the Fraser Coast Council Chris Loft, who came to Canberra to help me put the case to the government for funding for the Section D realignment.

Bruce Highway Upgrade (Cooroy to Curra) project overview: map 15
Bruce Highway Upgrade (Cooroy to Curra) project overview: map 15 Department of Transport and Main

"I also thank my coalition colleagues Darren Chester and Barnaby Joyce, who, as former ministers for transport and infrastructure, listened to me and the Wide Bay community time and time again about the need for this project.

"And I thank Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack for taking the time, shortly after being appointed Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, to travel along the highway to meet with Shelley and Scott (Kovacevic) from The Gympie Times.

Crash investigators at the scene of a double fatality on the Bruce Highway two kilometres north of Tiaro.
Crash investigators at the scene of a double fatality on the Bruce Highway two kilometres north of Tiaro. Alistair Brightman

"The weather was particularly bad on that day and Michael saw for himself just how treacherous the highway can be. I also thank my coalition colleague Keith Pitt, who is in the chamber tonight, for his support. He will also realise the great benefits, both safety and economic, that will flow to his seat of Hinkler and the broader region of Wide Bay.

"It was great to see the people from across the whole Wide Bay region unite behind my call to secure funding to complete the final Cooroy to Curra project, which will save lives. I thank them all.”

Gympie Times