Neglected highway leads to a future of delays

Mar 2, 2021

Neglected highway leads to a future of delays

Mar 2, 2021

THE State Labor Government’s refusal to invest in upgrading a Bruce Highway link between Ingham and Cardwell will only see more road closures during wet season, says Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto.  

Mr Dametto said Transport and Main Roads had so far refused to allocate any funding to a long-standing $40 million commitment from the Federal Government to improve flood immunity at Gairloch Washaway. 

“That funding from the Federal Government has been sitting there for more than 10 years. But when I made enquiries to Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey’s office, I was advised that the department wasn’t intending to invest any time or resources in this project because their preliminary flood modeling indicated that upgrading this section of the Bruce Highway between the Gairloch washaway and the Seymour River wouldn’t resolve the flooding issues and that they were focusing on planning for the Ingham bypass as a solution instead,” Mr Dametto said.  

“TMR is missing the point completely. Improving flood immunity at Gairloch means we won’t have the washaway cut off to traffic every time there’s enough rain to cause minor flooding in the Lower Herbert. These improvements were never about “flood proofing” this section of the Bruce. The intention should be to lift the road with some adequate culverts and improved drainage. I’d rather the highway being cut for a few hours compared to a few days.” 

Mr Dametto said he was “no fan” of the Ingham bypass, which is estimated to be years away from the design and construction phase.   

“I’ll do anything I can to slow down any progression on the bypass project. Businesses in the Herbert River District cannot afford to lose that drive-through traffic any time soon,” he said. 

“TMR intends to push ahead with their plans for the bypass but let’s be honest, it’s long way from becoming a reality. If I see a car driving on it within 10 years, I’ll eat my hat. The people of Hinchinbrook and those that depend on the Bruce Highway to be open for commercial and personal reasons deserve an upgrade in the meantime. 

“We can’t have fresh fruit and vegetable growers, freight companies and truck drivers losing out on income and road users being inconvenienced because TMR is prepared to let the washaway go to ruin through negligence.” 

The latest National Partnership Agreement on Land Transport Infrastructure schedule for the 2020-21 Budget forecasts that the Federal Government’s $40 million for Gairloch Washaway will now be delivered in 2023-24.  

“I met last week with Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey to discuss the potential project, where I stressed the importance of the required upgrades. I made it clear that it would be complete madness for the State to not spend Federal funding that has been budgeted for something that will improve the function of our National Highway. The money is there we just need to take it,” Mr Dametto said. 

“It’s important to note that if the Gairloch Washaway isn’t upgraded before the bypass is built, this project will no longer qualify for Federal funding as it will cease to make up part of the National Highway. I will continue to lobby the Minister Bailey until this project becomes a priority. Federal Kennedy MP Bob Katter worked hard to secure that $40 million and I’ll buggered if I let it go to waste.”