MP: Four lanes north of Gympie ‘decades’ away
WIDE Bay residents could be waiting "decades" for the Bruce Highway north of Gympie to become a dual carriageway, State Transport Minister Mark Bailey revealed yesterday.
While speaking at the first sod-turning of the long-awaited $1 billion Gympie bypass, Mr Bailey was peppered with questions about the future of the national road further north of the city.
The stretch was pushed into the spotlight after Mr Bailey and Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien sparred over a proposed two-lane bypass of Tiaro.
Mr O'Brien said the proposed design was "killing Queenslanders".
He fired up over the proposal once more at the media gathering for the bypass.
"If we're building a brand new section of highway with 10,000 car movements on it every day, we should be building it like this (the bypass)," Mr O'Brien said.
"We shouldn't be building it to a two-lane standard.
"(The highway south of Gympie) was the worst highway in Australia, and now it's fatality free.
"Why aren't we building this?"
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Mr Bailey said safety was the "number one priority" for the State, but traffic numbers did not justify a four-lane thoroughfare at Tiaro.
"The main issue here is … volumes there are much lower," Mr Bailey said.
"There is a lot of capacity.
"There is no issue about gridlock or hold-ups at the moment, and there is not foreseen (to be) for the next couple of decades.
"In terms of duplicating the Bruce Highway there are a lot of sections where the volumes are relatively modest and to duplicate 1600km of Bruce Highway would be an enormous project which no-one could actually fund.
"You've got to prioritise where you do it."
Mr Bailey said he had given a commitment for the two-lane Tiaro bypass to be divided to ensure safety on the stretch.
"We have to judge different parts of the Bruce Highway differently because sometimes the volumes are very very high, sometimes the volumes are very modest and it changes depending on where you are."