In a show of unity, Wide Bay Burnett’s five mayors along with the Federal Member for Wide Bay Mr LlewO’Brien, Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt and representatives from Regional Development Australia Wide Bay Burnett, met with the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Mr Darren Chester this week to emphasise the importance of Bruce Highway Section D Cooroy to Curra upgrade funding.
The delegation expressed the urgency to fund the remaining section of the Bruce Highway Cooroy to Curra
upgrade which involves an upgrade of a 26km stretch between Woondum to Currra and the construction of a bypass around Gympie.
The Bruce Highway connects 58 per cent of the state’s population, from Brisbaneto Cairns, it carries major freight movements between inland production areas and 11 coastal ports and regional centres. With the number of vehicle utilising the Bruce growing by 2.8 percent each year, freight volumes set to double by 2026 it is inevitable that the already high crash rate is set to increase.
There have already been six deaths in the first six months of 2017 on the horror highway between Gympie and Maryborough. The RACQ is predicting at least 350 deaths and 5000 injuries on the Bruce Hwy over the next decade if no future action is taken.
Addressing Federal Parliament, Mr O’Brien, a former police officer, demanded the ‘missing link’ be upgraded as soon as possible.
“Statistics only tell part of the story, but when you make the gut-wrenching walk to someone’s doorstep and tell them their loved one isn’t coming home you realise the full magnitude of it,” Mr O’Brien said.
“13,800 vehicles travel on this highway through Gympie each day, with 173 casualty crashes and 25 deaths between 2003 and 2007.
“Traffic accidents are a burden on our nation, and one death is one too many.”
Each year it contributes $11.5 billion to Queensland’s economy and supports over 60,000 jobs. This will grow in the years to come with the emerging Port of Bundaberg.
In order to export produce from South-East Queensland, industry needs to transport their goods as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Regional Development Australia Wide Bay Burnett chair Bill Trevor said in 2014 the highway was named as one of the world’s top 25 most dangerous roads.
“By transforming this part of the Bruce into the high-speed, high-volume corridor, Section D will benefit Wide Bay’s tourism and agricultural industries by improving access to distribution centres, ports and markets,” Cr Trevor said.
“The benefits of upgrading Section D will not only benefit both supply chains and labour mobility but will provide jobs for the Wide Bay workers during the construction phase, and boost South East Queensland’s productivity.”
The RACQ estimates congestion costs the economy $16.5 billion per year, and by 2031 this figure is set to skyrocket to $53 billion.
The project is expected to cut congestion in Gympie, reducing highway travel times by avoiding six sets of traffic lights, eight different speed zones and two school zones. It will make journeys faster and most importantly safer, for people using the highway and those living around it.
‘We now need a commitment from State and Federal Governments to fund the biggest project, Section D. Where I come from, you don’t do half a job. That’s why we need to secure funding to construct this nation-building project as soon as possible.’ Concluded Mr O’Brien.
For further information please contact Regional Development Australia Wide Bay Burnett Executive Officer
Scott Rowe on 0429 881 697.