LNP’s $33b plan to make Bruce Hwy four lanes
Queensland's "bitumen spine" would be upgraded to four lanes along the entire route under a bold plan for the Bruce Highway to be unveiled today by LNP leader Deb Frecklington.
In what is one of the biggest election commitments to be announced, just five weeks before punters head to the polls, this paper can reveal the $33 billion vision for the much-maligned highway.
The upgrades to the arterial infrastructure, which has a history of horrific head-on collisions, would be rolled out over 15 years between Cairns and Curra (near Gympie) if the LNP wins next month's state election.
Ms Frecklington will promise $50 million towards mapping out a detailed blueprint to progressively separate the Bruce Highway into a modern dual carriageway road along the entire length of the 1677km route.
She will commit an LNP government to more than double the state's annual spending on the highway from $200 million to $440 million, or $6.6 billion over 15 years, and seek a long-term deal with the Federal Government under the traditional 80:20 funding split for the national network.
About 100,000 jobs would be created over the project's life.
"Not since an LNP Government built the M1 in the '90s has there been a road project of this magnitude," Ms Frecklington said.
"With nearly 200,000 Queenslanders out of work we need a major infrastructure stimulus package to drag Queensland out of recession.
"The LNP has a plan to rebuild the Queensland economy so we are stronger after coronavirus.
"Future generations will benefit from this major upgrade of Queensland's major economic artery."
Named after long-serving state and federal Labor MP Harry Bruce, the highway is currently only dual carriageway at its southern extremity between Brisbane and Curra, where it forms the northern section of the M1.
The highway has been the subject of a bidding war between Labor and the LNP at repeated federal elections, however despite constant upgrades it remains subject to summer flooding with communities regularly cut off from each other for weeks.
This includes at Goorganga Plains, south of Proserpine, which has been the subject of discussion by Whitsunday candidates leading up to next month's election.
The LNP's announcement comes just days after Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey revealed motorists could be waiting decades for the Bruce Highway north of Gympie to become a dual carriageway.
And it joins the release of the RACQ's election wish list this week, with RACQ head of public policy Rebecca Michael saying a duplication of the Bruce Highway between Sarina and Mackay would ease congestion, safety and flooding issues.
"This duplication of the Bruce Highway would see huge improvements to safety, minimise flooding closures and help it cope with the large volumes of vehicles travelling it every day," she said about the infrastructure between Sarina and Mackay.
Ms Frecklington's promise will appeal to Queenslanders living along the state's coastline, with community leaders long complaining the highway's death toll was a national tragedy.
Figures show the Bruce Highway comprises just 7.5 per cent of the national road network, but accounts for more than 17 per cent of fatalities.
Ms Frecklington said the LNP would turn Queensland's most important road into Queensland's best road.
'We'll make the Bruce Highway faster, safer and stronger," she said.
"It will ensure regional communities are better connected and that more goods and freight can get to market.
"The Morrison Federal Government has shown its support for Queensland and I'm sure they will welcome our plan."
The LNP will promise to establish a Bruce Highway contractors panel in an effort to ensure local companies get first dibs during the tender procurement process.
"Local contractors will be given the priority on these upgrades because we want to get and keep Queenslanders in work," Ms Frecklington said.
"It is time to be bold and plan for the future - business as usual is not an option if we want to drag Queensland out of recession.
"A vision to four-lane the Bruce Highway, building the New Bradfield Scheme, building the 'second M1' (Pacific Motorway) and no new taxes is all part of the LNP's bold economic plan for Queensland."