Complex Gairloch floodway planning commences

Planning will soon commence to improve safety and flood immunity at the Gairloch floodway on the Bruce Highway, five kilometres north of Ingham.

The Gairloch floodway is located in the centre of a 13 kilometre flood-prone section of the Bruce Highway from the southern outskirts of Ingham to the foothills of Cardwell Range.

Historically, flooding closes the Bruce Highway at one or more locations along this 13-kilometre section every two years, often multiple times, during the wet season. Closures vary from hours to several days.

The most significant and longest closures occur at the Gairloch floodway.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce said the Australian and Queensland governments were committed to finding a solution.

“We understand the importance of keeping people, goods and services moving, which is why we have committed $40 million to investigate Bruce Highway flooding and safety issues at Gairloch,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“Under this commitment, we will undertake planning to identify a suitable treatment which will reduce the length of highway closures due to flooding.

“The treatment identified during this planning will also need to align with the broader flood characteristics between Ingham and the Cardwell Range, and complement the government’s long term plans to address these flooding closures.

“Based on the outcome of this planning, a decision will then be made about the project progressing to detailed design and construction.”

Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the Queensland Government would be delivering the project and would soon commence field-based planning investigations including survey, environmental assessments and geotechnical investigations.

“Whilst this project will not completely flood-proof the Bruce Highway between Ingham and Cardwell, we should see fewer and shorter closures,” Mr Bailey said.

“It is important to recognise that this project is an interim measure. It will not provide complete flood immunity to the closures that are associated with the highway’s existing alignment within the Herbert River Floodplain.

“What we will achieve with this project is reducing the frequency and duration of closures due to flooding at Gairloch, however it won’t be a complete flood immunity solution.

“We will seek to achieve a similar level of flood immunity at Gairloch as to what is currently on the Bruce Highway at Seymour River, just north of Gairloch, and the southern outskirts of the Ingham township, which both see fewer and shorter duration closures than that of Gairloch currently.”

Looking towards a longer-term solution for the Bruce Highway between Ingham and Cardwell, Minister Bailey said planning and consultation would also soon commence on the Bruce Highway – Ingham to Cardwell Range Deviation (Plan and Preserve Corridor) project.

“This project is jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland governments to the value of $48 million and will look to update the findings from a previous planning study in 2011,” Mr Bailey said.

“The previous study identified the need for a more comprehensive solution to address flooding on this section of the Bruce Highway, which was to re-locate the Bruce Highway out of the Lower Herbert River floodplain, to the west of Ingham.

“The upcoming planning project will update the findings from the 2011 planning study, undertake further technical investigations to inform detailed planning and confirm or amend the identified corridor and seek any required Australian Government approvals.

Regional and local stakeholders and communities in Far North and North Queensland will also have the opportunity to provide their perspectives on the nature and extent of the problems associated with the Bruce Highway in this area as part of the upcoming planning project; with regional engagement commencing in early 2022.”

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