Politicans have made many promises to Far Northerners over the years to flood-proof and upgrade the Bruce Highway.
But now, the language has changed with both Labor and the LNP, along with the Department of Transport and Main Roads admitting the national link between Cairns and Brisbane will never be flood-proof.
"Any talk of flood-proofing is absurd, because Queensland’s natural disasters and floodplains are very difficult to counter," Labor’s MP for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said yesterday. "Our plan is to make sure we have as many overtaking lanes as flood immune as possible. "We need to look at those hot spots and do our very best."
The LNP’s candidate for Mulgrave Robyn Quick refused to guarantee the highway could be permanently flood-proofed."No one is ever going to completely flood-proof the highway from beginning to end, but what we will do is identify those areas where we can re-align the highway to avoid some of those really bad areas," she said. "Our objective would be that nothing would be under water for longer than 24 hours."
As it stands, Labor is sticking to its multi-million dollar Bruce Highway Upgrade Strategy, while the LNP would develop a 10-year Bruce Highway Crisis Action Plan within the first six months of forming government. The department labelled the idea of flood-proofing any road as long and complex as the Bruce Highway "extraordinarily difficult".
Improving flood immunity between Cairns and Townsville will reduce the frequency and duration of road closures caused by flooding," a department spokesperson said. The spokesperson added it’s "aiming to achieve an annual average time of closure of no more than 10 hours and a maximum closure of 48 hours".
A hotly-debated issue in the Far North, the Bruce Highway was again in the spotlight this week after the RACQ demanded at least a $1 billion investment over the next 10 years to upgrade the vital link. The campaign comes in the middle of state election with both Labor and the LNP vying to convince voters that they have a workable solution.
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