Traffic is flowing on six lanes of the Pacific Motorway (M1) between Varsity Lakes and Burleigh, with the first package of works of a $1 billion project now open.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said this was a major milestone for the project.
“The M1 is Queensland’s busiest road, seeing more than 210,000 vehicles regularly driving it on its busiest days,” the Premier said.
“That’s why our record level of investment in the region is helping to reduce travel times and get Gold Coasters home safer and sooner.
“This $1 billion upgrade will widen 10 kilometres of the M1, upgrade interchanges, build better service roads and create active transport connections between Varsity Lakes and Tugun.
“Not only is this good for local drivers, but it’s also good for jobs, with 850 jobs supported over the life of the project.
“This is just one of eight important M1 upgrades being built by my Government.”
The works in this section included extending and relocating the Exit 85 northbound off-ramp by 250 metres, adding a fourth northbound lane between Reedy Creek (Exit 85) and Burleigh (Exit 87), and installing smart motorways technologies to help reduce ‘stop-start’ travel.
When widening the M1, the concrete surface was also replaced with stone mastic asphalt for a quieter and more easily maintained surface.
Federal Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Minister Catherine King said opening the first stage of this significant project to motorists is just the start of increasing capacity and improving safety on the M1 between Varsity Lakes and Tugun.
“The opening of three lanes between Varsity Lakes and Burleigh and the fully functioning diverging diamond interchange is the start of a transformation of the M1 for Southern Gold Coast communities,” Ms King said.
“The benefits of the full 10-kilometre upgrade will be far-reaching and a welcome relief to those regularly caught in congestion.
“The investment in this $1 billion project will help commuters spend less time in traffic and get people to their destinations sooner.”
Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey was proud to celebrate the milestone, which would also see a new shared path open.
“This major milestone which will deliver huge benefits to the 90,000 commuters who travel between Varsity Lakes and Burleigh each day,” Mr Bailey said.
“We’ll see commuter travel times reduced, safety improved and easier access to important local facilities like the Varsity Lakes train station.
“As an avid bike rider, I also know the new shared paths will be a welcome addition to growing Gold Coast active transport infrastructure.
“Three-metre-wide shared paths are perfect for people on two wheels, electric scooters, people walking or families with prams, and this asset has already been given the seal of approval from the active transport community.
“Growth in the region is skyrocketing and we’re backing that by building better roads and transport systems for the coast, from M1 upgrades, light rail and new heavy rail stations.
“This upgrade is just one example of the over $5 billion in road and transport projects being delivered on the Gold Coast and in surrounding areas to the benefit of locals.”
The three-metre-wide, active transport path on the western side of the M1 now connects Burleigh (Exit 87) interchange with the local bikeway network at the new exit 85 (Old Coach Road) northbound off-ramp.
Gold Coast based Queensland Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said the recently opened diamond diverging interchange had transformed travel in the area.
“From transforming Exit 87 into an innovative diverging diamond interchange, through to using noise reducing asphalt and adopting smart motorway technologies, the project continues to use new and sustainable design and construction options,” Ms Scanlon said.
“The Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia actually acknowledged the work on this $1 billion project with a leading rating – setting a high standard for maximising sustainability and enhanced environmental, social and economic outcomes for the community.
“The project team also had to contend with severe weather events while widening the motorway and building a new interchange in a live traffic environment, and I thank motorists for their patience during this time.
“As we continue the Varsity Lakes to Tugun upgrade, a reminder to drivers to follow signs and adhere to speed limits through road works for the safety of all road users and workers.
“We are committed to keeping the M1 moving and investing in critical infrastructure projects across the state.”
The diverging diamond interchange opened to motorists four months ago. It is now fully operational and all permanent traffic signals switched on.
The Australian Government and Queensland Government have committed a total of $1 billion ($680 million Australian Government and $320 million Queensland Government) to plan and build the Pacific Motorway (M1) Varsity Lakes to Tugun upgrade.