$800M Bruce highway win
THE Wide Bay region is on the cusp of monumental change, with $800 million in federal funding announced yesterday to complete the biggest and most expensive leg of the Bruce Hwy bypass.
Decades of the Fraser Coast Chronicle campaigning to fast-track the $1 billion project paid off yesterday, with Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt and Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien making the historic announcement on the side of the Bruce Highway at Six Mile.
The State Government welcomed the news and reconfirmed its commitment of the other $200 million.
An emotional Llew O'Brien, a former police officer who attended multiple crashes on the highway before entering politics, called the win a "game changer".
Section D will now be built five years ahead of schedule, with construction tipped to start late this year or early next year, and taking three years to complete.
Wide Bay forensic crash unit OIC Steve Webb attended many fatalities with Mr O'Brien and pulled no punches in celebrating the news and dismissing those who say it is not the road to blame.
"I have always said that if you drive to the conditions, you will get there in one piece," Sgt Webb said.
"But people have got to realise that not everyone thinks that way. And unfortunately when you build roads, you've got to take into account the complete ingenuity of fools. Fools will always find a way to kill themselves."
Mr McCormack said the investment built on the existing $52 million commitment for planning and development of the Cooroy to Curra project.
Mr O'Brien said:
"For too many years too many families in Wide Bay have been struck with the devastating impact of accidents causing deaths and serious injuries between Cooroy and Curra.
"I've worked closely with people who have suffered loss on this highway, emergency service workers, local media who have reported on crashes, local councils, and road safety groups, taking their concerns to our Government to highlight how vital this project is.
"It's been a long campaign and I give credit to the community for showing their strong support for this critical piece of infrastructure.
"Section D eliminates eight sets of traffic lights for people travelling between Maryborough and Cooroy, eases traffic congestion in Gympie, improves access to the Cooloola Coast, better connects Wide Bay to Brisbane and beyond, and ensures this section of highway remains open when the Mary River floods."
Section D will see the construction of a new 26km, four-lane bypass of Gympie and will complete the final link in the 62km upgrade of the Bruce Hwy between Cooroy and Curra.
Mr Pitt said the funding announcement was a big win for regional Queensland.