More than a third of the Capricorn Highway fails a safety test as state's motoring body calls for upgrades. Pictured is the Neerkol Bridge, Capricorn Highway following heavy rain Australia Day, 2013.
More than a third of the Capricorn Highway fails a safety test as state's motoring body calls for upgrades. Pictured is the Neerkol Bridge, Capricorn Highway following heavy rain Australia Day, 2013. Sharyn O'Neill ROK260113srains39

Capricorn Hwy fails safety test as ALP talks Bruce Hwy

AS the Australian Labor Party unveils its plans to upgrade the Bruce Highway, the state's motoring body has called for the Capricorn Hwy to be upgraded after more than a third of the stretch failed the safety test.

RACQ have called on all political parties to cough up funds to fix the Central Queensland highway that stretches over 570kms from east to west of the region from Rockhampton.

More than 570km of highway design was assessed by RACQ engineers who determined it had a poor 2-star rating and was a high risk to motorists of head-on, run off-road and intersection crashes.

RACQ Head of Public Policy Rebecca Michael said while the current $75 million project to duplicate the Rockhampton to Gracemere section, once completed, would drastically improve safety, investment was needed to bring the entire road up to scratch.

"Once the Rocky to Gracemere stretch is finished it'll jump from an Australian Road Assessment Program safety rating of 2-stars to 4 and 5-stars. This is a great example of where investment can turn a dangerous road into a much safer highway," Dr Michael said.

"But it's the stretch between Gracemere and Barcaldine in dire need of improvements."


Capricorn Highway sign near the Yeppen Round-a-bout.   Photo Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin  ROK260811ccap2
Capricorn Highway sign near the Yeppen roundabout. Chris Ison

Dr Michael said estimated further upgrades would cost more than $40 million, to eliminate the highest risk sections and deliver a minimum 3-star rating to most of the road.

Meanwhile, the ALP is expected to outline a billion dollar a year vision to upgrade the Bruce Highway today.

Under the Future-proofing the Bruce plan, a re-elected Palaszczuk Government would establish the Bruce Highway Trust to identify priority projects like the Rockhampton Ring Road through a 15-year forward plan and invest $1 billion in projects delivering long-term planning certainty under five-year action plans.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Bruce Highway played an essential role in the life of Queensland and its economy.

"Future-proofing the Bruce is not just about making it quicker and safer to get from A to B," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"It's about boosting our economic growth and our exports - already a record $70.8 billion in the year to September - through more efficient transport of goods from our regional producers to the rest of Australia and the world."

The RACQ is not just calling on political parties to cough up funding to fix the dangerous Capricorn Hwy, where there were 19 deaths and 155 serious injuries between 2011 and 2015, but also to deliver stage 2 of the Rockhampton Northern Access (the bypass) and safety upgrade of the Gregory Highway.

"We're calling on both sides of politics to commit to bringing the Gracemere to Barcaldine up to scratch," Dr Michael said.


"NOT FOR SYNDICATION”. Damage on the Capricorn Highway. Images from the air - The big wet, Australia Day weekend around Rockhampton 2013. Photo Sharyn O'Neill / The Morning Bulletin Sharyn O'Neill ROK260113srains16

"Improvements including road widening and wide centreline treatments, flood improvements, the installation of safety barriers and rumble strips, additional overtaking lanes and removal of roadside hazards would significantly reduce the crash risk.

"These enhancements to the Gregory Highway will improve the safety and provide a suitable inland alternative route to the Bruce Highway."

"It's about jobs, with extra and more efficient economic activity supporting existing jobs and creating new ones. The cities, towns and regions that the Bruce connects already support an estimated 600,000 jobs.

"It's about delivering a 1700 km world-class highway that's resistant to cyclones and floods so we can better protect local communities, keep our state moving in times of disaster, and cut repair and restoration bills into the future.

"We need to future-proof the Bruce because it links major business centres with five major ports and carries millions of tonnes of our export goods - meat, livestock, sugar, grain, fruit and vegetables, and manufactured products."