Highway upgrade saving lives and millions of dollars
APART from helping end the nightmarish fatal callouts for former police traffic investigator now Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien, the completed Cooroy to Curra A Bruce Hwy section has also come in almost miraculously at $300 million under budget.
Fast-tracking of this huge project, which has employed more than 400 people and moved around three million cubic metres of soil, saved $200 million off the original $790 million budget.
And further efficiencies eventually clipped another $100 million from the final cost to come in at $490million, but it was the cost saving in future human misery and death that Mr O'Brien found immeasurable.
He said this was once Australia's worst black spot for road deaths, but the four-laning and the concrete barriers had all but eliminated the horrific head-on crashes he attended as a policeman. And now Mr O'Brien, as he inspected the Cooroy southern interchange completion, vowed not to rest until he secures funding for Section D which includes the Gympie by-pass in light of seven recent fatalities north of there.
Lining up alongside Queensland Minister for Main Roads and Road Safety Mark Bailey as well as former Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and local state MP Peter Wellington, Mr O'Brien said this was "a very significant day not only for the Sunshine Coast but for areas north”.
"For me personally as somebody who has been a traffic investigator, as a policeman in my former career, I think about some of the things, the tragedies I've seen on the road that this replaces. It truly is a great day.
"This at one stage was rated as the worst stretch of highway in Australia, it had a shocking (death) rate.”
He said the Skyring Creek section in particular was "just a horror stretch”.
"I investigated some of those myself - a lot of lives were taken and a lot of lives were changed forever in very, very serious injury accidents.”
Mr O'Brien said there was an urgent need to have Section D going with funding.
"We've had seven fatalities north of Gympie in recent times and we have to do everything we can for road safety,” he said.
"I will fight relentlessly to see that happen,” Mr O'Brien said.
Mr Bailey said this road upgrade would be greatly appreciated by its 16,000 road users every day.
"The Cooroy to Curra Section A project supported more than 430 jobs during construction which was a great boost for the Sunshine Coast and Gympie regions,” the minister said.
Mr Truss called the $8.5 billion, 10-year Bruce Highway Upgrade Program an example of real nation building, while Mr Wellington said nearby locals from Cudgerie Estate who fought to have the northern interchange moved up from their doorstep "could not be happier”.