More than $2 billion worth of planned upgrades to the Bruce Highway and M1 Pacific Motorway have been given the green light by Infrastructure Australia, after the business cases for three Queensland projects were approved by the nation’s independent infrastructure advisor and added to the Infrastructure Priority List.
The Infrastructure Priority List is a pipeline of nationally-significant proposals for governments at all levels to choose from. It now includes three new Priority Projects for Queensland: Bruce Highway – Cairns Southern Access Corridor – Stage 3: Edmonton to Gordonvale, M1 Pacific Motorway (Eight Mile Plains to Daisy Hill) and M1 Pacific Motorway (Varsity Lakes to Tugun).
“Being included as a Priority Project on the Infrastructure Priority List shows that a proposal has undergone a rigorous business case assessment and been proven to have significant benefits for the community. This supports better project selection by ensuring Australia’s governments are presented with the best available evidence when making funding decisions,” said Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive, Romilly Madew.
“With the addition of the Bruce Highway duplication between Edmonton to Gordonvale and upgrades to two sections of the M1 Pacific Motorway – Eight Mile Plains to Daisy Hill and Varsity Lakes to Tugun – the Priority List identifies close to $4 billion worth of nationally-significant projects for Queensland, which are critical to improving both productivity and quality of life,” Ms Madew said.
“Responding to the challenges of growth and capacity constraints on Queensland’s infrastructure networks is a common theme in the latest additions to the Infrastructure Priority List, with improving travel times and road safety a particular focus as congestion increases on key freight and passenger routes.
“The Bruce Highway proposal aims to ease capacity constraints by creating a four-lane highway between Edmonton and Gordonvale. This section of the Bruce Highway will cater for significant population growth in Cairns, but drivers already experience significant delays during morning and evening peaks, as well as a high crash rate. Between 2007 and 2012, 79 crashes were reported along this section, almost double the rate reported on similar roads across Queensland.
“The M1 Eight Mile Plains to Daisy Hill upgrade will improve one of the busiest sections of the motorway. 150, 000 vehicles travel on this section of the M1 each day and this will grow to over 200,000 by 2041, driven by population growth in Southeast Queensland. With a proposal to widen an 8.5km northbound section of the motorway and improve local busways, the project is expected to help accommodate 25% more traffic and relieve congestion in this area for the next 15–20 years. The project also supports active transport through the provision of an extended cycleway.
“The M1 Varsity Lakes to Tugun project proposes to improve a congested section of the motorway that connects northern NSW and the Gold Coast. Increased traffic volumes are causing a high number of accidents and worsening travel times, impacting on local residents travelling to work as well as tourists, tour operators and freight vehicles. Widening the motorway in both directions will reduce congestion along this vital corridor, and support the Gold Coast’s economic development.
“We have been pleased to see the Queensland Government submit a large number of business cases to Infrastructure Australia for assessment in recent months. This includes considered proposals that progress the staged upgrade of the Bruce Highway and M1 Pacific Motorway – two key parts of the National Land Transport Network with strategic significance for a growing and changing Australia,” Ms Madew said.