Local workers and apprentices have donned their hard hats to begin works on the $75 million Capricorn Highway duplication.
More than 180 local jobs will be created by the four-lane upgrade from Rockhampton to Gracemere, signalling a road construction boom in Rocky.
It coincides with the halfway mark on works for the $157 million Bruce Highway upgrade north of Rockhampton, which has created more than 400 jobs for the region.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the project was part of the Northern Australia Roads Program, which supports the movement of people and freight in northern Australia.
“The Capricorn Highway is Central Queensland’s main east-west freight corridor and is a nationally significant route, so I am pleased to be working closely with the Queensland Government to duplicate it for the benefit of businesses, primary producers and local communities,” Mr McCormack said.
Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said businesses were describing the project and roads boom as a ‘purple patch’.
“Construction businesses have opened new offices in Rocky because they know there is plenty of work around,” Mr Bailey said.
“It’s why the Queensland Government is delivering more than $14.5 billion in road projects across region Queensland, creating more than 13,500 jobs.”
Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said the duplication would improve road safety through reducing the risk of head-on crashes, as the need for high-risk overtaking manoeuvres would be reduced.
“Upgrading the Capricorn Highway will support freight connectivity throughout the central and western Queensland regions,” Mr Buchholz said.
Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said the project would deliver 5.2 kilometres of four-lane highway between Rockhampton and Gracemere.
“Project works will also include on-road cycling facilities and vital intersection upgrades at McLaughlin Street, as well as a new Fairy Bower Road/Old Capricorn Highway connection,” Ms Landry said.
Member for Rockhampton Barry O’Rourke said works on the Capricorn Highway would soon be followed by major projects including the Rockhampton Ring Road project and more road upgrades between Rocky and Yeppoon.
“Our city injects more than $4.8 billion into Queensland’s economy every year – and roads play a huge role in keeping our businesses and producers moving,” Mr O’Rourke said.
“With more than 5,000 businesses calling our region home and many more setting up shop, the Queensland Government is paving the way for freight and jobs.”
There will be speed restrictions and traffic controls put in place to ensure the safety of all road users and construction workers while works are underway.
The $74.99 million Capricorn Highway Duplication project is jointly funded, with the Australian Government committing $59.99 million and the Queensland Government $15 million. It is expected to be completed by early 2021, weather permitting.