Problem to be addressed
The Bruce Highway is the major road transport route between Brisbane and Cairns, and is part of the National Land Transport Network (NLTN). The highway between Woondum and Curra is currently affected by safety, capacity and flood resilience issues. The existing unseparated two-lane configuration, together with numerous direct property access points on the highway, limited overtaking opportunities and high speeds, are factors that combine to increase the risk of high-impact crashes (particularly head-on crashes).
As proposed, the Bruce Highway Cooroy to Curra Section D: Woondum to Curra project involves upgrading 26 kilometres of the highway, including works to reroute the highway to bypass Gympie. This is the final stage of a 62-kilometre program of highway upgrades between Cooroy and Curra. The program has four sections for construction purposes, with works on the first section having commenced in September 2009. The first three sections are now complete and open to traffic.
Economic, social and environmental value
The Queensland Government’s business case states that the net present value (NPV) of the project is estimated to be $274 million with a benefit-cost ratio (BCR) of 1.36, using a 7% real discount rate and P50 capital cost estimates in 2018 prices. Infrastructure Australia evaluated the business case and considers the project to have a strong strategic case, but of marginal economic value. This is largely due to Section D being the last of a multi-section program. Completing Section D will help to realise the benefits of the entire program, but it also means that a significant part of the project’s benefits may have already been captured by Sections A to C. A full program business case would have better demonstrated the alignment of the costs and benefits over all the different sections.
As a result, Infrastructure Australia considers the claimed safety benefits of the project may be overstated. However, the overall benefits of the project are likely to exceed its costs. Infrastructure Australia is also confident that the proponent’s proposed delivery model is appropriate.