NOT only is it the most dangerous stretch of highway in the state, it also fails dismally as regional Queensland’s main transport link due to its propensity to close with little more than a moderate flood.
Queensland’s Main Roads Minister Craig Wallace has called for a generational commitment from both sides of politics in Canberra to flood proof the Bruce Hwy, saying it would take around $1.3 billion to fix the main trouble spots between Brisbane and Gympie.
Releasing a flood study prepared by his Main Roads Department’s Investment Funding Unit, Mr Wallace said around $5.3 billion was needed to accomplish the task along the 1600km between Brisbane and Cairns.
Gympie Regional Council Deputy Mayor Tony Perrett said the fact the highway closed when the Mary River rose to a moderate flood level of about 14.1m was a major inconvenience for travellers and local residents.
Cr Perrett, who chaired the GRC’s Local Disaster Management Group during January’s floods, said what was urgently required was all stages of the Cooroy to Curra Project to be completed.
He said that would successfully mitigate the flood problem as well as improve the safety for road users on what RACQ called Queensland’s most dangerous stretch of highway.
“Stage B is well and truly under way,” Cr Perrett said.
“What we need is the complete bypass funded.
“The sooner there is a commitment to fund that upgrade, the easier we will rest as a region.”
The Bruce Hwy was cut at several points during Queensland’s floods in January, forcing regional communities across the state to rely on airlifts and special convoys to keep supermarkets stocked with vital supplies.
The situation left Gympie supermarket shelves almost bare as supplies of fresh produce, bread, milk and other essential items dwindled.
The study’s flood immunity vision standard for Brisbane to Gympie was flood immunity for a one-in-50-year flood event with flooding for a one-in-100-year flood event contained to the shoulder point where possible.
Mr Wallace said to do nothing would allow the “massive” social and economic costs of flooding on the Bruce Hwy to continue.
“It is extremely frustrating for me to see my crews patch a road that has gone under during flooding to know that we will have to do the same job next time we have heavy rain,” Mr Wallace said.
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