Bruce Highway upgrade to begin a year early

A congestion-busting project in northern Queensland is expected to begin ahead of schedule

Work on a congestion-plagued section of the Bruce Highway may begin a year ahead of schedule after the Federal Government committed extra funds for planning studies.

Detailed assessments on the $55 million duplication of the Douglas Arterial Motorway between Townsville and Thuringowa will begin next week after an independent consultant is appointed.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese says the Rudd Government has given the Queensland Government $5 million to make sure the planning work is completed by June 2009.

Once completed, Albanese says the project will address peak hour congestion levels by linking the hospital and university precinct across the Ross River to the growing south-western suburbs.

"By beginning the critical planning work now, we will be in a position to start delivering on our commitment to fix this section of the Bruce Highway at least 12 months earlier than previously thought possible," Albanese says.

"This upgrade cannot come soon enough for the residents of Townsville and Thuringowa, with traffic along the Douglas Arterial forecast to grow from 22,000 to 33,000 vehicles a day by 2013."

Albanese says the planning studies will identify a preferred option for progressing the project to the construction phase.

The project forms part of the Government’s plan to invest $2.2 billion between 2009 and 2014 on improving the Bruce Highway.

Albanese says the Government will spend $490 million in the Townsville region, which includes a $110 million duplication of the Bruce Highway from Vantassel Street to the Flinders Highway.

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