Four new Queensland projects worth more than $2 billion combined have declared as Priority Projects by Infrastructure Australia.
Gold Coast Light Rail: Stage 3A and threes sections of the Bruce Highway upgrade were added to Infrastructure Australia’s Priority List.
Infrastructure Australia, the national independent infrastructure advisor, provides governments at all levels with a list of nationally significant investment opportunities for the near, medium and long term. To be included on the Priority List, a proposal must undergo a rigorous business case assessment and prove to have significant benefits to the community.
Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive, Romilly Madew, said Infrastructure Australia is pleased to see Queensland’s strong pipeline of business case submissions continue.
“The addition of Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A and three sections of the Bruce Highway upgrade means we now have over $6 billion worth of nationally-significant projects for Queensland on the Infrastructure Priority List to support growth and deliver sustained community benefits,” she said.
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“Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A addresses the dual challenges of population growth and high levels of car dependency on the Gold Coast, one of Australia’s major tourism destinations which hosts around 12 million visitors each year.
“With 88 per cent of trips currently by private vehicle and less than 5 per cent by public transport, urban congestion is a major challenge and this is expected to worsen as the Gold Coast’s population grows by an estimated 55 per cent to 928,000 people by 2041.”
Infrastructure Australia’s assessment of the Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A business case found the total benefits of the project to be close to its total costs.
It identified two key factors to delivering value for money: land use changes to promote urban renewal and increase density in surrounding areas, and encouraging more residents to leave the car at home and use the light rail instead.
Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister, Mark Bailey, said the State Government had written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison urging him to boost federal support for the Gold Coast.
“Locking in funding to get this project going will mean more jobs for the Gold Coast, not just during construction, but also longer-term jobs to support light rail operations,” Bailey said.
“Infrastructure Australia says we need to provide more transport options for the 26,000 people who will live in this part of the Gold Coast by 2041. Stage 3A will help us do that, and the Queensland Government has committed $351 million to it.
“The City of Gold Coast is ready with its share too, but so far all we’ve seen from the Federal Government is a lacklustre $112 million.”
The Bruce Highway was also recognised as strategically important by Infrastructure Australia due to its role in the National Land Transport Network and as the primary road transport route on the east coast of Queensland.
Bruce Highway – Cooroy to Curra Section D: Woondum to Curra is the final stage of a four-stage program of works to modernise a 62-kilometre stretch of the Bruce Highway between Cooroy and Curra.
“Infrastructure Australia’s assessment found that completing Section D will allow the whole-of-program benefits to be realised, including maintaining a consistent posted speed limit and safety standards between Cooroy and Curra,” Madew said.
Bruce Highway – Deception Bay Road Interchange Upgrade is a key connection for commuters travelling to and from Moreton Bay and surrounding regional areas, and also caters to freight travelling between the industrial areas of Moreton Bay and Brisbane.
“However, safety on the interchange is a key challenge, with 255 crashes occurring at this interchange or on connector roads in the decade to 2017,” Madew said.
“With a strong benefit-cost ratio of 3.0, the proposed Deception Bay Road interchange upgrade will relieve congestion, and improve safety and freight efficiency. It will also improve access to employment for the Moreton Bay community, providing flow-on economic and social benefits.
“The business case notes that the project will improve the average peak hour travel speeds at the interchange, with the evening peak improving by over 100 per cent by 2031 (from 23 kilometres per hour to 50 kilometres per hour), and addressing current and emerging safety issues by reducing projected crash rates by over 40 per cent.”
The Bruce Highway – Maroochydore Road Interchange Project has a similarly strong benefit-cost ratio of 3.2.
“The Bruce Highway interchanges at Maroochydore Road and Mons Road are congested and accident-prone, largely due to the configuration of these intersections, their proximity to each other and the design of the on- and off-ramps,” Madew said.
“The Bruce Highway Maroochydore Road Interchange Project aims to address the congestion and safety issues at both interchanges by upgrading the Maroochydore Road interchange, reconfiguring entry and exit ramps at Mons Road, constructing new service roads and widening the Mons Road underpass.”