Haughton River Floodplain upgrade almost complete

Image courtesy of HDR Inc.

The $500 million Haughton River Floodplain upgrade in Queensland is surging towards completion, following the final traffic switch earlier this year.

Located 50 kilometres south of Townsville, the Haughton River Floodplain has been one of the most complex floodplains in Queensland, with regular flood events spreading for up to 13.5 kilometres along the Bruce Highway.

On average this section of highway, containing four main waterways, sugar cane railways, weirs and levees, closes every one to two years, isolating the township of Giru and significantly affecting locals, tourists, transport operators and other motorists.

The Queensland Government had awarded the contract to the Infrastructure Group joint venture – comprising Bielby, BMD Constructions, JF Hull and Albem, with ARUP Group and HDR – back in 2018 to undertake the upgrade works aimed at improving safety and flood resilience on the highway.

As part of the upgrade, the joint venture was tasked with replacing a series of sub-standard waterway crossings to remove the flood vulnerability of the Bruce Highway across the Haughton River floodplain.

The final design solution reduced the number of bridges from 16 (during the reference design) to seven in detailed design. This saved more than 2000 linear metres of bridge, without significantly increasing the waterway area of transverse culverts.

The improved flood immunity of the highway, which is a strategic link to North Queensland, will reduce average annual road closures from four days to one hour, providing a benefit to both commuters and the freight sector.

The joint venture also adopted a foam-stabilised pavement for the upgrade as sections of the new road alignment will still be prone to overtopping in severe weather. The innovative design will provide enhanced performance in saturated conditions and lead to a more resilient road network.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce said this project was another example of George Christensen’s determination to deliver for people of this region, to make sure the infrastructure they need and deserve is funded and delivered.

“Thanks to projects like this, the Australian Government’s record $110 billion infrastructure investment plan is helping to connect communities and improve safety, while creating jobs and supporting our economic recovery,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey said the project built on other upgrades underway on the Bruce Highway.

“As a key connector for locals in the regions, and the backbone of Queensland’s freight industry, delivering upgrades on the Bruce Highway is a priority,” Mr Bailey said.

“Right now, a $481 million upgrade is underway on the Bruce Highway from Edmonton to Gordonvale in Cairns, which is supporting 466 jobs. And, we have $50 million in safety upgrades being delivered between Mackay and Proserpine.”

Mr Bailey said the project continues to support local jobs and industries.

“The project has supported an average of 544 jobs over the project lifecycle,” he said.

The $514.34 million Haughton River Floodplain Upgrade project is jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland governments on an 80:20 basis, representing commitments of $411.47 million and $102.87 million, respectively.

Construction of the Haughton River Floodplain Upgrade Project, including ancillary works such as the demolition of existing bridges, is expected to be completed by late 2021.

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