UPGRADES: The State Government says Childers will be on track for a bypass.
UPGRADES: The State Government says Childers will be on track for a bypass. Contributed

Childers bypass promise part of Labor's Bruce Hwy plan

THE State Government has announced a billion-dollar-a-year plan for upgrades to the Bruce Hwy.

Member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson said under the plan, a re-elected Labor government would establish the Bruce Highway Trust to identify "priority projects" such as the Childers Bypass, with a 15-year plan.

In 2011, the Bligh State Government committed to a 20-year upgrade plan for the Bruce, including the construction of a Childers bypass within 11 to 20 years.

At the time, the Childers Chamber of Commerce said it would be important to work on the town to ensure it was vibrant enough for people to still want to visit if a bypass went ahead.

Business owners expressed concern that it could affect their incomes.

In addition to the continued plan for a Childers bypass, the Palaszczuk Government has also committed to funding its share to complete the Gympie bypass.

"The final stage of the project would create a Gympie bypass and complete the 61km project," Ms Donaldson said.

"The stretch of the Bruce Hwy between Cooroy and Curra was one of the most dangerous sections of the National Land Transport Network.

"Major upgrade work on this section has increased capacity and, most importantly, improved safety."

Ms Donaldson said the Bruce Hwy was critical to the tens of thousands of local movements of people and freight to the state's ports and regional business centres.

"Our region's resident depend on the safe and reliable operation of the Bruce Hwy," she said.

"We need certainty that the Bruce Hwy is to be upgraded and maintained into the future. And that is what a re-elected Palaszczuk Government will do."

The Future-proofing the Bruce policy will:

  • Establish the Bruce Highway Trust to identify priorities for a 15-year forward plan and invest $1 billion in projects to deliver long-term planning certainty - under five-year action plans
  • Commit $200 million a year to the Trust and provide an initial injection of $175 million for targeted productivity-boosting, safety and flood resilience projects  
  • Bring forward the Townsville Ring Road upgrade to a dual-carriageway between Douglas and Bohle Plains
  • Fight for Queensland's fair share of Federal funding and the $116 million raided by the Malcolm Turnbull from the Bruce Highway Upgrade Program
  • Construct the final Gympie Bypass missing link - Cooroy to Curra (Section D).

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Bruce Hwy played an essential role in the life of Queensland and its economy.

"Future-proofing the Bruce is not just about making travel quicker and safer, it is about boosting economic growth and exports - $70.8 billion in the year to September - through more efficient transport of goods from regional producers to the rest of Australia and the world," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"It's about jobs. More efficient economic activity supports existing jobs and creates new ones. Cities, towns and regions the Bruce connects already support an estimated 600,000 jobs.

"It's about delivering a 1700km world-class cyclone and flood resistant highway so as to better protect communities, keep our state moving in times of disaster, and cut repair and restoration bills into the future.

"We need to future-proof the Bruce because it links major business centres with five major ports and carries millions of tonnes of our export goods - meat, livestock, sugar, grain, fruit and vegetables, and manufactured products."

The Premier said the $1 billion a year spending was based on the Federal Government meeting its "fair share" of funding commitments consistent with the funding arrangements for the National Land Transport Network.

Main Roads and Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey said the trust - to be chaired by an eminent Queenslander, with a deputy chair nominated by the Leader of the Opposition - aimed to take politics out of Bruce Hwy funding.

Mr Bailey said the former LNP government had slashed road and transport funding.

"It's a fact that the Newman Government cut more than $600 million from roads and transport infrastructure funding, and RoadTek lost over 700 staff members," he said.

"The LNP cut $60 million in road safety initiatives and $73 million from cycling infrastructure programs, while fast-tracking plans to privatise and outsource - at a cost of $30 million - while pretending to ask Queenslanders' view on asset sales.

"The Tim Nicholls' cut, sack and sell approach had a massive impact on Queensland's road and transport sector - an impact we are still working to repair."

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