State Government must fast-track work on four-lane Tiaro bypass

Federal Member for Wide Bay and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Llew O’Brien has urged the State Government to fast-track the design for a four-lane Tiaro bypass, after Queensland Roads Minister Mark Bailey said it won’t be done until the end of next year.

“There was widespread shock and condemnation when Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey first said a four-lane Tiaro bypass wouldn’t be necessary for decades to come, so we all welcome his latest backflip to support a four-lane design,” Mr O’Brien said.

“His reversal is better late than never, but it’s taken a year of campaigning and more than 4,000 signatures on petitions for the State to finally do what it should have done in the first place and recommend four lanes.

“But Minister Bailey’s backflip comes with a catch – the State Government won’t finish the four-lane design that it should have put forward in the first place until the end of 2022.

“That means we may not see major construction until 2024 and that’s just not good enough. People are losing their lives and suffering serious injuries on this outdated and unsafe stretch of highway, and it needs to be fast-tracked and prioritised by the Queensland Government.

“If this road was in Victoria or Melbourne, with the same level of traffic as between Gympie and Maryborough, we wouldn’t be waiting until the end of next year just for the design – a four-lane highway would already be built and finished.

“The Palaszczuk Labor Government has got the wrong priorities and puts regional Queensland at the back of the queue. Its focus is on Brisbane instead of on our dangerous section of the highway.

“We can’t afford for the State Government to drag its heels any longer on the four-lane Tiaro bypass, like it’s done with other projects in Wide Bay, including the fully federally-funded $13.3 million Tinana overtaking lanes.

“On 12 January 2018, the State Government advised they were undertaking design work with construction to start at Tinana later that year – but major construction didn’t begin until this year, more than three years later.

“It was the same story with the Wide Bay Highway intersection upgrade at Bells Bridge – in May 2017 I announced $11.2 million from the Coalition Government to fix that dangerous intersection.

“But there was delay after delay by the State Government and it wasn’t until March this year, four years later, that work finally began.

“In January 2019 I announced $17.5 million to upgrade intersections along the Bruce Highway at Gootchie. Again, here we are more than two years later and work is finally beginning.

“The State Government’s poor planning and poor programming of these much-needed road works mean they have now all come on at once, knocking out overtaking lanes and clogging the highway, adding to fatigue and making a dangerous section of highway even worse.

“We have waited long enough, our funding is on the table, we simply cannot accept any more delays for the four-lane Tiaro bypass, the State Government must get on with the job.”