A campaign is being launched to upgrade the Bruce Highway
A campaign is being launched to upgrade the Bruce Highway Peter Holt

EXCLUSIVE: Plan to make Bruce Hwy four lanes to Sarina

MOTORISTS could be travelling along a four-lane highway between Sarina and Mackay - and beyond - if our region's federal MPs get their way.

Last night, speaking exclusively with the Daily Mercury, Dawson MP George Christensen revealed plans for a public campaign and petition for a four-lane highway upgrade, that would cost up to $1billion.

Mr Christensen and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry are "on the cusp" of launching the campaign; the push coming as The Mercury today launches a four-week campaign after readers identified to fix the Bruce Hwy.

Over coming weeks, we expect our local, state and federal politicians to band together to achieve a few common goals: to highlight safety issues, push for more money for vital upgrades and find ways to reduce the death toll on one of the most dangerous highways in the country.

"We have had a program of $6.7billion of spending for the Bruce Hwy under way for four years, and will continue for the next six, but more always needs to be done beyond that," Mr Christensen said.

"That $6.7billion has seen things like ... the Mackay Ring Road, the Sandy Gully Bridge upgrade in Bowen... it's also helping with a whole heap of overtaking lanes and at the end of next year or early 2018 we'll see the start of the northern access upgrade to Mackay.

"What's not on the list that I want to push to get on the list is four-laning the entirety of Mackay to Sarina."

Upgrading that section of the highway would be a smart investment, Mr Christensen said.

"This is the deadliest section of the Bruce Hwy; even in the nation.

"It would be costly - somewhere in the $700million to $1 billion (vicinity) but I think doing that project alone would result in a reduced death toll and you can't put a price tag on that."


Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan spends "a big chunk" of his time travelling the Bruce Hwy, and says there are parts of the national highway both north and south of Proserpine that are "disgraceful".

"I'm pleased the Daily Mercury has kicked off this campaign and joined the fight to fix the Bruce," Mr Costigan said.

"Personally I want to see some action to address the big ticket item that is the Goorganga Plains (near Proserpine Airport).

"We all know it floods, we all know what that means to productivity and our economy and something needs to be done sooner rather than later."

The Whitsunday MP said he would also like to see more - and longer - overtaking lanes on the highway.

"And new rest areas including one near Bloomsbury for truckies and the travelling public to further enhance road safety would be another priority," Mr Costigan said.

Road Accident Action Group life member Graeme Ransley said there was a "serious rest area issue" between Mackay and Proserpine.

"We've still got a major problem and I endorse Jason Costigan's idea for a rest stop at Bloomsbury," Mr Ransley said. "The rest stop at Palm Tree Creek is not satisfactory and almost dangerous for truck access heading south-bound, particularly when they are exiting. A south bound rest area is definitely needed."


Member for Mackay Julianne Gilbert said upgrading the Bruce Hwy was a priority for the Palaszczuk Government.

"There is a joint 10-year $8.5billion upgrade program currently under way for the Bruce Hwy," Mrs Gilbert said, highlighting the $560million Ring Road and $28million Vines Creek Bridge replacement projects, as well as new overtaking lanes.

"This is a significant investment, but there is certainly more to be done. I will continue to meet with and talk to the Main Roads Minister about prioritising upgrades to the Bruce, both north and south of Mackay."

Bowen to Townsville

Burdekin MP Dale Last, whose electorate includes the Bruce Hwy stretch from Bowen to Townsville, has also added his weight behind the campaign to Fix the Bruce.

"Congratulations to the Mercury for highlighting this because as many motorists and residents particularly North Queenslanders know, that work to fix the Bruce Hwy is long overdue," Mr Last said.

"How many more people will lose their lives on this highway before it is brought up to standard? Parts of the highway are also notorious for becoming blocked during torrential rains, which of course, regularly occur each wet season in North Queensland.

"I certainly welcome the work which is finally being done at Sandy Gully to improve flood immunity and work elsewhere in my electorate ... but there's so much more to be done."

Moving forward?

Mr Christensen hoped the 10-year Bruce Highway Action Plan would not be the last long-term plan to fix the highway.

"At the five-year mark of this project (next year) I think there's capacity for the state and federal governments to announce a new 10-year plan for the Bruce Hwy," he said.

"We've seen some projects come say 20% under budget so it would be good for that to be rolled on to new projects added to the commitment.

"People aren't going to be satisfied until we have what the Pacific Hwy has, which is four lanes from one end to the other."

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