The Palaszczuk Government will commit $160 million to the Mooloolah River Interchange under a plan to transform major roads between Caloundra and Mooloolaba.
Funding in last week’s State Budget locks in $320 million in joint funding to start work on one of the Sunshine Coast’s most notorious bottlenecks.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the investment will create 290 jobs and join the pipeline of upgrades in the government’s $52 billion, four-year infrastructure program across the state that are supporting Queensland’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.
“We know fixing the Mooloolah River Interchange is a priority for Sunshine Coast residents,” the Premier said.
“The current layout causes traffic dramas at peak times, so we’re taking a major step forward to deliver a better solution.
“This funding commitment adds to our infrastructure investment on the Sunshine Coast, which includes more than $3.9 billion worth of road and rail upgrades supporting thousands of jobs.
“We’ve significantly upgraded the Bruce Highway between Caloundra Road and the Sunshine Motorway in recent years, so our next focus is on transforming one of the major gateways to Sunshine Coast.”
Treasurer and Minister for Investment Cameron Dick said the Mooloolah River Interchange was one of the key road investments made in the Queensland COVID-19 Economic Recovery Budget.
“Our government is constantly looking to strengthen Queensland’s transport network, particularly in growth regions like the Sunshine Coast,” Mr Dick said.
“Better roads come with a range of benefits for our communities, further improving liveability in the most liveable state in Australia.
“The Mooloolah River Interchange is part of a budget that sees us delivering a record investment in roads, with $27.5 billion over four years supporting 24,000 Queensland jobs.
“This is a great announcement for the people of the Sunshine Coast and one that will make travelling locally easier and safer.”
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said fixing the Mooloolah River Interchange would deliver major improvements to travel times between Maroochydore, Kawana and growing communities around Caloundra.
“The upgrades will make the interchange safer and less congested, and mean quicker trips between the emerging Maroochydore CBD, the Sippy Downs university campus and the Kawana hospital precinct,” Mr Bailey said.
“More than 550,000 people are expected to be living on the Sunshine Coast in 20 years, so we need this upgrade to support the growth that is coming and take pressure off Nicklin Way.
“From an engineering perspective, it’s tricky with needing to traverse rivers, and will have to be designed and delivered in multiple stages to keep traffic flowing.
“The $320 million in joint funding that is locked in will allow us to get on with stage one.
“Stage one involves building a new Karawatha Drive connection to Mooloolaba to resolve the weaving traffic and fully separate local trips from the Sunshine Motorway.
“A new bridge linking Nicklin Way to Mooloolaba will also be built to open up that area and let us deliver the subsequent upgrades that are needed in future stages.”
Member for Caloundra Jason Hunt said planning would also start this year for a future motorway parallel to Kawana Way between Parrearra and Meridan Plains, as part of the Southern Sunshine Coast Roads Improvement Study.
“We can’t rely on Nicklin Way being the major north-south road connection forever, so this planning is looking at options for a new motorway further inland to spread out traffic demand,” Mr Hunt said.
“The study will include planning to upgrade the Caloundra Road, Kawana Way Link Road and Bells Creek Arterial Road roundabout.
“The new 11.6km Bells Creek Arterial between Caloundra Road and the Bruce Highway should open in late 2022, so that will take some of the pressure off Caloundra Road too.
“These projects are the next solutions to diverting northbound traffic on Caloundra Road on to a new arterial road, taking pressure off the Caloundra roundabout and Nicklin Way.”
Member for Nicklin Rob Skelton said the Palaszczuk Labor Government was backing a substantial roads investment program to support growing Coast communities.
“Whether it’s adding more lanes and upgrading key Bruce Highway interchanges between Brisbane and Gympie or supporting local road changes like the recent speed limit change in Palmwoods, we’re listening to locals to make their roads safer and less congested,” he said.