Problem to be addressed
The Peak Downs Highway extends from the Bruce Highway in the Port of Mackay to the Gregory Highway in central Queensland, near the town of Clermont.
As the principal access to the Bowen Basin and Galilee Basin coal and energy provinces, the Peak Downs Highway is an important regional route. The Peak Downs Highway is used to transport essential mining inputs such as fuel, plant and equipment, construction materials and explosives. It is also used to transport raw sugar and petroleum.
Within Walkerston, the Peak Downs Highway passes through the town centre, which includes schools, community facilities and shops, resulting in poor amenity for the local residents. This section of the highway is also becoming congested, leading to longer travel times for commercial vehicles.
The proposed Walkerston Bypass project includes a 10.4 km realignment of the Peak Downs Highway, from west of Walkerston to the Mackay Ring Road at Stockroute Road.
In diverting traffic (including heavy and dangerous goods transport) away from Walkerston’s main street, the new bypass will provide increased freight capacity, more direct connectivity for large vehicles, increased flood resilience, improved freight efficiency, and safety and amenity benefits for the local residents of Walkerston.
The project also creates an opportunity for urban expansion in the regional townships of Walkerston, Mirani and Ooralea under the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday Regional Plan (2012).
The project has strong strategic merit as it will improve connectivity in the region and directly support the realisation of the benefits from Stage 1 of the Mackay Ring Road, which is currently under construction.
Economic, social and environmental value
The estimated benefits from the project are travel-time savings, along with vehicle operating cost savings, safety benefits, environmental benefits and residual value (that is, the estimated value of an asset at the end of its lease or the end of its life).
A significant proportion of the vehicle operating costs and travel-time savings are attributed to commercial and freight vehicles, which is consistent with the aim to improve freight efficiency.
The proponent’s stated benefit-cost ratio is 1.5, with a net present value of $67 million (7% real discount rate).
Capital cost of initiative as stated by proponent (2019 business case) $150.9 million (nominal, undiscounted) | Australian Government contribution $120 million | State government contribution $30 million | Private sector contribution N/A