UPGRADES MADE: Michelle Landry, Ken O'Dowd, Warren Truss and Bill Byrne commissioning the Yeppen South Project, one of several delivered with the aim to improve the Bruce Hwy.
UPGRADES MADE: Michelle Landry, Ken O'Dowd, Warren Truss and Bill Byrne commissioning the Yeppen South Project, one of several delivered with the aim to improve the Bruce Hwy. Allan Reinikka ROK111215ayeppen1

The case for a four lane highway from Rocky to Gladstone

A TWIN city development linking port to international airport via a four-lane highway.

That's the big vision opposition leader Bill Shorten and the Labor Party have for Rockhampton and Gladstone.

But it's one that won't materialise any time soon, with traffic counts on the Bruce Hwy between the two cities showing it won't be needed for decades to come.

Gregory Miszkowycz, RACQ's principal traffic and safety engineer said duplication of highways was considered on the basis of population predictions.

Senior Traffic and Safety Engineer with RACQ Gregory Miszkowycz (left) and Executive Manager Traffic and Safety for the RACQ John Wikman inspect `black spots on the Bruce Highway.
Photo Geoff Potter / Noosa News
Senior Traffic and Safety Engineer with RACQ Gregory Miszkowycz (left) and Executive Manager Traffic and Safety for the RACQ John Wikman inspect `black spots on the Bruce Highway. Photo Geoff Potter / Noosa News Geoff Potter

"In the short term at least, there's not a lot happening in the northern parts apart from immediately north or south of some of the major cities like Mackay, Rockhampton, Townsville or Cairns," he said.

In those cases, Mr Miszkowycz said roads may be duplicated on the city limits, but not on more rural stretches of road.

Instead, engineers have looked at other comparatively low-cost solutions to improve safety.

"You can provide more overtaking lanes as an interim measure to allow people to overtake and not get frustrated sitting behind other vehicles rather than duplicating were traffic volumes just aren't there," Mr Miszkowycz said.

"There's a lot of places where traffic volumes along the more rural parts of the Bruce Hwy are only between 2000 and 4000 or 5000 vehicles a day so you don't actually need to do full duplication works there, you can provide other avenues to give people adequate opportunity to overtake."

A spokesperson from the Department of Main Roads and Transport told The Morning Bulletin the most recent daily data for the Bruce Hwy to Rockhampton's south shows between 4300 vehicles at the Calliope River Bridge and 8600 vehicles at Scrubby Creek, Midgee.

Of this, heavy vehicles totalled 30% and 21% respectively of the total.

To the north of Rockhampton, data shows between 2600 vehicles at Kunwarara and 7500 vehicles at Parkhurst, with heavy vehicles making up 24% and 17% of this traffic respectively.

Mr Miszkowycz said there was no need to consider duplication works until traffic figures reached upwards of 10,000 vehicles a day on certain stretches.

"To actually spend or invest a significant amount to duplicate where you don't have the traffic volume, you could better spend that money on other issues like improving safety at intersections or somewhere else in the mean time until you generate enough traffic volumes where you need to provide two lanes in both direction," he said.

Looking at current counts, Mr Miszkowycz estimated duplication wouldn't need to be considered for another 20 to 30 years.

This time frame differs from the 11 to 20-year time frame initially estimated by the Bligh Government in their 2011 Bruce Highway Upgrade Strategy.

Former Labor candidate for Capricornia Leisa Neaton spoke about this long-term vision for the region during the Federal Election Campaign, saying it was important for the two electorates to work in tandem into the future.

While Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd agreed this was a good vision, he said there was no doubt the project was many years from reality.

"Roads are expensive projects and since forming government in 2010, the coalition has committed many millions toward improving safety through developing more overtaking lanes and increasing the centre line gap," Mr O'Dowd said. "This work has led to great improvements in safety and efficiency.

"I always back bang-for-buck projects and the widening and overtaking lanes certainly rate highly.

"We have a clear plan for the future of the Bruce Highway and I look forward to future improvements."