Bligh takes long-term view on freight with 20-year plan

New 20-year Queensland Infrastructure Plan charts long-term view on freight, including preserving future transport routes and boosting investment

By Brad Gardner | July 15, 2011

Future freight corridors will be preserved and key transport routes improved under a 20-year blueprint for infrastructure investment in Queensland.

The Queensland Infrastructure Plan, unveiled this week by Premier Anna Bligh, charts short and long-term infrastructure priorities for the state over the next two decades.

It highlights the need to address constraints on the freight sector in rapidly-growing regions such as Far North Queensland and the south east.

According to the plan, upgrades to the Bruce Highway are essential to relieving congestion in and around Cairns and providing more reliable access for freight operators. It says improving freight facilities and efficiencies in the region will be an "ongoing priority"

"Alongside improvements to the Bruce Highway, one of the focus areas will be on planning to preserve and protect future bypass corridors around key urban congestion points and reduce amenity impacts of freight movement through urban areas in identified locations," the document says.

Under the plan, the Bruce Highway will be fully upgraded to motorway standard over the next 20 years along its entire length in the south east.

"Maintaining effective road freight networks to access markets and port facilities is a critical long-term objective to support the local and Queensland economy. Arterial and motorway upgrades will be undertaken to support access to port facilities and to ensure the reliability of key freight routes," the document says.

"Investments will focus on improving traffic and congestion management, increasing traffic capacity, and improving road safety and efficiency of the highway and key interchanges."

Ageing timber bridges throughout Central Queensland will be replaced on critical freight routes in the long-term, along with a focus on flood-proofing roads to keep trucks moving.

The plan lists improving heavy vehicle access in Rockhampton to the Bruce Highway, boosting freight efficiency to and from the Surat Basin and managing the freight task between the Port of Gladstone and industrial precincts as strategic long-term priorities.

As Queensland continues the clean-up from natural disasters that struck earlier this year, the document cites the need for stronger transport infrastructure in coastal regions such as Cairns to withstand exposure to severe weather.

"Remote areas of the Gulf and Cape will require continued investment in key routes, particularly to reduce the severity and duration of wet season flooding," the plan says.

Townsville will receive a fair amount of focus in the coming years, with the government citing the movement of freight along the Mount Isa to Townsville corridor, access to the ports of Abbot Point and Townsville and improving freight flows as immediate priorities for the region.

"Some of the transport priorities to support this include upgrades to the Flinders Highway, Townsville Port Access Road, Gregory Developmental Road, Kennedy Developmental Road and the Bruce Highway," the plan says.

The document outlines infrastructure projects for the next four years, which include upgrades to the Pacific, Gateway and Logan motorways and the Bruce, Landsborough and Capricorn highways.

Many of the road projects, already announced, are reliant on federal funding to go ahead.

Bligh says Queensland is now the only state with a 20-year infrastructure plan, which will be finalised later this year following a series of public consultation forums.

"This plan is not just an investment in infrastructure for the people of Queensland; it’s an investment in the state’s future prosperity," she says.

"Strategic investment in infrastructure improves productivity, economic growth and standards of living."

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