Ominous warning for traffic delays on major motorway
FIXING traffic chaos on the Pacific Motorway all the way from Brisbane's southern suburbs to the border has been added to the latest list of national priorities by Infrastructure Australia.
Almost $2 billion of upgrades to separate sections at the northern and southern ends of the M1 had previously been included in the list. But the independent body now says the whole route from Eight Mile Plains to Tugun should be treated as a single high priority initiative.
Infrastructure Australia acting CEO Anna Chau said it was important to view it as one corridor and there was a risk that in solving one bottleneck, the problem was just moved further along.
The move adds improvements to an additional 50km of the crucial route between Daisy Hill and Nerang and Infrastructure Australia says the issue is so critical it should be addressed within five years to alleviate crippling congestion.
"The M1 motorway is one of the busiest roads in Australia, carrying in excess of 150,000 vehicles per day, including over 12,000 heavy vehicles,'' the new report says.
"The section between Eight Mile Plains and Tugun cannot currently accommodate this volume of traffic and, as a result, experiences frequent and prolonged periods of congestion.
"Current traffic volumes exceed the design capacity of the motorway, creating congestion with nationally significant impacts on productivity," it says.
"The lack of an alternative route exacerbates congestion issues when there are incidents on the motorway."
Fast population growth across the region, especially on the Gold Coast, and people commuting to Brisbane to work are driving the increase in traffic.
Without action, the report warns, congestion will cost 89,767 "vehicle hours'' of delays every day by 2036.
The State and Federal Governments last year agreed to pay about $1 billion each to improve the M1 sections between Eight Mile Plains and Daisy Hill, and between Varsity Lakes and Tugun.
The high priority initiative now adds stretches from Daisy Hill to Loganholme, and from Loganholme to Nerang.
The costs involved are not yet known.
The M1 fix is one of four Queensland projects added to the latest Infrastructure Australia priority list.
The others include addressing congestion and accidents by upgrading the Centenary Motorway in Brisbane's western corridor. Weekday traffic levels are projected to soar from 100,000 to 150,000 by 2036.
The proposal includes on and off-ramp improvements, greater use of smart traffic technology and widening the road.
Upgrading the Warrego Highway between Ipswich and Helidon Spa, east of Toowoomba is a new priority initiative, aimed at improving safety, capacity and floodproofing. The rate of fatal crashes there is up to 10 times motorway standard.
The report also prioritises better public transport between Broadbeach and Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast, probably by expanding the light rail system to take pressure off the roads.
Nationally, the Infrastructure Australia list has a record 121 proposals worth $58 billion. New additions include a national charging network for electric vehicles and a program to ease overcrowding in remote housing.