Bruce Highway upgrade still on the backburner
GRIDLOCK on the Bruce Hwy between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane will cause ongoing migraines for motorists for years to come, as any funding in tonight's federal budget has been virtually ruled out.
The most important road for the region has been forgotten and neglected by successive governments - a fact borne out by regularly gridlocked traffic and sections of crumbling road surface.
Around $6.7 billion in new road funding is expected to be announced for Queensland, but observers suggest the likelihood of any of that money being spent on widening the Bruce Hwy to six lanes to Brisbane is zero.
"While it would be great to see the extra lanes, and there's certainly plans for the future, my understanding is it's not a priority," RACQ executive general manager advocacy Paul Turner said.
"There's so many poor sections on the Bruce - dangerous sections - that that section, because it is four lanes, is regarded as one of the best sections, believe it or not."
Caloundra Chamber of Commerce tourism and events chairman Bill Darby suggested that the widening of the highway to Brisbane would benefit local tourism greatly but, realistically, spending would be directed firstly to parts of the highway that suffered more serious problems, including regular closures and flooding.
"There's nothing that would unlock the Coast's tourism potential more than the six-laning of the highway to Brisbane," Mr Darby said.
"We want it for tourism growth, but that's not life-threatening."
Mr Darby suggested the money would come only after spending confidence had risen across the nation, and he hoped the initiatives in the budget would help to achieve that.
"Stimulating our economy is going to get our highway more quickly," he said.
"What we're hoping is there will be enough confidence from the decisions announced in the budget to expedite future economic activity."
Federal Member for Fisher Mal Brough, who is in Canberra, did not respond to requests for comment about the issue.
A spokesman for the Palmer United Party said Member for Fairfax Clive Palmer had vowed to turn up the pressure on the Federal Government to attract funds for local infrastructure, including the highway.
Mr Turner suggested $1 billion earmarked for the Gateway Upgrade North would benefit the Sunshine Coast by reducing bottlenecks in the Brisbane area.
"While it won't affect traffic on the Bruce Hwy, it does make a big difference to the tourism drive traffic to the Sunshine Coast because it addresses a big bottleneck," he said.
He said that $122 million will be spent on the highway between Caboolture and Caloundra for such projects like the Bells Creek and Pumicestone Rd overpasses, which are under construction.