State Labor is pitching a ‘Real Bruce Plan’ that includes a ‘Second Bruce’ inland freight route to take trucks off the major highway.
The plan also commits to building on the existing $12.6 billion jointly-funded Bruce Highway partnership with the Federal Government supporting 2500 jobs, with an additional $500 million for priority upgrades between Proserpine and Gladstone.
However the Federal Government has queried the ‘Second Bruce’ scheme – seeking further details on how and from where it would be funded.
“The Australian Government has a strong $10 billion commitment to the existing Bruce Highway – money which is already allocated to several upgrades and projects,” Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said.
“That Federal money has already been committed – it is for Queensland Labor to explain which part of the existing Bruce Highway it wants to rip money from to fund today’s thought bubble.”
It comes after a State LNP pledge of $33 billion to take the Bruce Highway to four lanes from Cairns through to Gympie if it wins the upcoming election.
Touring the $514 million Bruce Highway upgrade at the Haughton River south of Townsville, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said 33 projects were underway thanks to Labor’s record investment on Queensland’s national highway.
“If re-elected, my government will continue to increase the annual investment in Bruce Highway upgrades to almost $2 billion by 2023,” she said.
“We’ll also build on our existing $125 million partnership with the Federal Government to improve the inland Townsville to Roma corridor by committing $200 million for the ‘Second Bruce’ to take trucks off the Bruce Highway.”
Key opportunities of the Second Bruce plan include:
- Reducing truck movements on the existing Bruce Highway up to 49 per cent
- Cutting freight travel times between North Queensland and key markets in Sydney and Melbourne
- Upgrading inland highway bridges to suit larger vehicle combinations
- Prioritising maintenance and highway upgrades to meet heavy haulage standards
- Offering a reliable alternate freight connection to access regional and remote communities cut off by natural disasters
- Generating new regional jobs at food, accommodation and rest stop businesses to meet demand from increased inland truck movements.
Labor Candidate for Burdekin Mike Brunker said increasing the Bruce Highway Trust membership to include more regional voices would give regional communities a larger say on how funding is prioritised.
“We know regional communities want a seat at the table when it comes to building a better Bruce,” Mr Brunker said.
“Under our Real Bruce Plan, six people who live in regional Queensland and regularly use the highway will join the Bruce Highway Trust to help deliver better outcomes for regional communities along the highway.”