MAJOR construction has officially commenced on the $929.3 million Bruce Highway Upgrade – Caloundra Road to Sunshine Motorway, which aims to increase safety and ease congestion for around 40,000 motorists who use the route daily.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester and State Main Roads and Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey were on the Sunshine Coast last week to turn the first sod for the upgrade project.
Mr Chester said the project was part of the Australian Government's record $75 billion commitment to essential airport, road, and rail infrastructure projects.
"Upgrading the Bruce Highway is a priority project of the Australian Government's infrastructure roll out, evidenced by the $844 million allocated in this year's budget for new projects," Mr Chester said.
"This upgrade will provide nearly 700 direct jobs, and project works will include transforming the Caloundra Road Interchange to a Diverging Diamond Interchange—a first for Australia."
Queensland Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the project was vital for the continued development of the coast and would provide safer, more efficient travel for motorists and industry along this section of the Bruce Highway.
"The project will involve upgrading the Highway from four to six lanes, including major upgrades to both the Caloundra Road and Sunshine Motorway interchanges. A new two-way western service road will also be provided for local traffic between Steve Irwin Way and Tanawha Tourist Drive," Mr Bailey said.
"Importantly, it will separate long-distance Bruce Highway traffic from local traffic movements, allowing the highway to function as a high-speed, high-volume corridor.
"My department and I worked hard to minimise the impact of this project specifically to the Beerwah State Forest and the design will continue to evolve as construction progresses which may include further reduction of impacts on the Forest."
Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace said the Sunshine Motorway interchange and the western service road roundabout would be replaced with a signalised intersection.
"A new intersection has also been provided at Cunning and Wilson roads for local access.
"A revised bridge structure will also be constructed on the Bruce Highway at the Sunshine Motorway interchange. This will allow for future upgrades of the Highway and reduce the number of traffic switches required during construction.
"Other design innovations will include upgrading the southbound exit from the Bruce Highway to Caloundra Road and Steve Irwin Way to two lanes, providing for buses at a new car pool facility next to Pignata Road for future events in the area."
The contract for the project was awarded to a Fulton Hogan Seymour Whyte joint venture in September last year. Major construction is expected to be completed by late 2020, weather permitting.
The $929.3 million Caloundra to Sunshine Motorway project is jointly funded with the Australian Government committing $743.4 million and the Queensland Government committing $185.9 million.
More information is available from the Department of Transport and Main Roads website at <http://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/brucehwycaloundra2sunshinemwy>.