By KATE BANVILLE
THE final stage of a major piece of regional infrastructure decades in the making is now complete, accelerating highway travel along a key northern logistics route and helping to drive Queensland’s export economy.
With the $280 million addition of the Townsville Ring Road’s fifth and final stage, construction roadworks have finished on project that’s first stage began in the early 2000s.
An estimated 17,000 freight and passenger vehicles now use the motorway every day and latest upgrades allowing motorists to completely bypass the more congested inner metro area of the North Queensland capital.
Since Stage 5 development principal contractor Georgiou Group began in mid 2021, four new bridges have been built and 22,000 tonnes of asphalt have been laid.
The project created 480 jobs. It was delivered under the Queensland Government’s Bruce Highway Upgrade Program which aims to “improve road safety, capacity, and flood resilience” along 1,677 kilometres of highway between Brisbane and Cairns.
The fifth stage project was jointly funded, with the federal government providing $224 million and the state government tipping in $56 million.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the new stretch of road, which completes 36 kilometres of dual-lane travel, was vital in meeting the growth and demands of North Queensland.
“The Townsville region is continuing to grow and change which is why infrastructure like this is so important – to open up new opportunities for housing and improve travel times for industry, tourists and commuters,” Palaszczuk said.
The ring road connects the Lavarack Barracks, James Cook University and Townsville University Hospital.
Federal Assistant Minister for Regional Development Anthony Chisholm (pictured) said the project was “great news for North Queensland”.
“This new section of the ring road will also provide locals and visitors with a much safer journey,” Chisholm said.
“This upgrade is part of the Albanese Government’s commitment to deliver the infrastructure that our state needs to keep up with Queensland’s growing population, while also protecting lives.”
State Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said with the city being major hub for Queensland imports, exports and road freight route, it was “incredibly important” that the government invested in other infrastructure projects such as the Haughton Pipeline and the Port of Townsville channel upgrade.
Federal Member for Townsville Phillip Thompson said the upgrades would continue to support critical industries driving the north’s economy, while also assisting to expand productivity and growth across the region.
“Townsville is a large hub that deserves to be recognised as such and that’s what the different road upgrades like Stage 5 of the Ring Road do,” Thompson said.
“If you look at the Townsville port widening project – it’s the fastest port to the southeast Asian market.
“So that means when cars come from overseas, for example, Toyota, the first stop from Japan is actually Townsville.”