Gold Coast Light Rail and Bruce Highway amongst $2bn in QLD additions to the Infrastructure Priority List

Publication Date
10 September 2019

Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A and three sections of the Bruce Highway are amongst four new Queensland projects added to the Infrastructure Priority List after the business cases were approved by Infrastructure Australia, the nation’s independent infrastructure advisor.

The Infrastructure Priority List provides governments at all levels with a prioritised list of nationally-significant investment opportunities for the near, medium and longer term. Inclusion on the Priority List shows that a proposal has undergone a rigorous business case assessment and has been proven to have significant benefits for the community.

The Infrastructure Priority List includes four new Priority Projects for Queensland, with a combined value of more than $2 billion:

“We are pleased to see Queensland’s strong pipeline of business case submissions to Infrastructure Australia continue. The addition of Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A and three sections of the Bruce Highway upgrade means we now have over $6 billion worth of nationally-significant projects for Queensland on the Infrastructure Priority List to support growth and deliver sustained community benefits,” said Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive, Romilly Madew.

Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A addresses the dual challenges of population growth and high levels of car dependency on the Gold Coast, one of Australia’s major tourism destinations which hosts around 12 million visitors each year. With 88% of trips currently by private vehicle and less than 5% by public transport, urban congestion is a major challenge and this is expected to worsen as the Gold Coast’s population grows by an estimated 55% to 928,000 people by 2041.

“Infrastructure Australia’s assessment of the business case for Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A found the total benefits of the project to be close to its total costs. We identified two key factors that are critical to delivering value for money: land use changes to promote urban renewal and increase density in surrounding areas, and encouraging more residents to leave the car at home and use the light rail instead.

“Proactive steps taken by the Queensland Government and City of Gold Coast are needed to encourage people to use Stage 3A of the Gold Coast Light Rail, which runs through a less densely populated and has fewer activity centres than Stage 1 and Stage 2. Examples of such steps include mode shift and traffic management strategies which highlight the fact that light rail will be more reliable and comfortable for passengers than the existing bus services,” Ms Madew said.

The Infrastructure Priority List recognises the strategic importance of the Bruce Highway, highlighting its progressive upgrade as a Priority Initiative due to its role in the National Land Transport Network and as the primary road transport route on the east coast of Queensland.

“Bruce Highway – Cooroy to Curra Section D: Woondum to Curra is the final stage of a four-stage program of works to modernise a 62-kilometre stretch of the Bruce Highway between Cooroy and Curra. Infrastructure Australia’s assessment found that completing Section D will allow the whole-of-program benefits to be realised, including maintaining a consistent posted speed limit and safety standards between Cooroy and Curra,” said Ms Madew.

“In addition to Cooroy to Curra Section D, two Bruce Highway interchange upgrade proposals have been added to the Priority List as Priority Projects, in recognition of their value in improving capacity, reliability and safety along the corridor. These are both excellent examples of strategic, targeted investments that will deliver material quality of life and productivity benefits for the community.

“Bruce Highway – Deception Bay Road Interchange Upgrade is a key connection for commuters travelling to and from Moreton Bay and surrounding regional areas, and also caters to freight travelling between the industrial areas of Moreton Bay and Brisbane. However, safety on the interchange is a key challenge, with 255 crashes occurring at this interchange or on connector roads in the decade to 2017.

“With a strong benefit-cost ratio of 3.0, the proposed Deception Bay Road interchange upgrade will relieve congestion, and improve safety and freight efficiency. It will also improve access to employment for the Moreton Bay community, providing flow-on economic and social benefits.

“The business case notes that the project will improve the average peak hour travel speeds at the interchange, with the evening peak improving by over 100% by 2031 (from 23kph to 50kph), and addressing current and emerging safety issues by reducing projected crash rates by over 40%.

“The Bruce Highway – Maroochydore Road Interchange Project has a similarly strong benefit-cost ratio of 3.2. The Bruce Highway interchanges at Maroochydore Road and Mons Road are congested and accident-prone, largely due to the configuration of these intersections, their proximity to each other and the design of the on- and off-ramps.

“The Bruce Highway Maroochydore Road Interchange Project aims to address the congestion and safety issues at both interchanges by upgrading the Maroochydore Road interchange, reconfiguring entry and exit ramps at Mons Road, constructing new service roads and widening the Mons Road underpass.

“The Queensland Government is commended for engaging with a range of external stakeholders at the strategic planning stage to establish strong local support for the project. As noted in the business case, community consultation has informed the reference design to enhance connectivity and safety outcomes. We consider this to be a best practice approach and support efforts to reconnect infrastructure decision-making with the needs of communities,” Ms Madew said.

The updated Infrastructure Priority List is available here.

Infrastructure Australia is currently developing the 2020 Infrastructure Priority List, which is due for release early next year.