Work on the Gateway Upgrade North in Queensland will begin in late 2014 following the release of the preferred plan for the project, which has been developed through extensive community feedback, and technical and environmental investigations.

Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson said the deal, struck between the Australian and Queensland governments prior to the federal election, meant certainty for the project.

“I expect we will be ready to call for tenders for early works in mid-2014,” Truss said. “This was a key election promise for an Abbott government to ease congestion and improve safety on one of Queensland’s most congested motorways.”

The upgrade design includes widening 11.3 kilometres of the motorway from four to six lanes, construction of off-road cycle/pedestrian facilities and the integration of Intelligent Transport Systems including variable speed limit signs, variable messaging signs, traffic monitoring cameras and ramp metering.

“The aim of the proposed upgrade is to improve motorist safety, reduce congestion and accommodate increased traffic in the future. This plan will improve traffic flow and minimises environmental impacts and effects on local residents and businesses,” said a Transport and Mains Roads spokesperson. “Using the Queensland Government’s guiding principles for improved engagement and community consultation was undertaken in 2007/08 and again in 2011. The project has ensured the local and broader community have been kept informed throughout the planning process.”

The detailed design and early works package will consist of specialised pre-construction activities and contemporary design principles from the awarded consultant. Site investigations, including surveys and geotechnical work, are already underway for use in the detailed design.

Consultants that have been prequalified with the department for engineering projects have been invited to tender applications for registration for engineering pre-construction and to take on a role as ‘early works design consultant.’

Emerson added that motoring bodies regularly rate this as one of the worst sections of road in Queensland, the cause of major delays and a burden on the economy.

“The upgrade is long overdue and will provide substantial relief for motorists who experience daily congestion on the motorway,” he said. “This project is also of great strategic importance in supporting the Port of Brisbane and the Australian Trade Coast Precinct, an economic growth zone of national significance with predicted employment creation of over 110,000 jobs by the year 2026.”

The Transport Minister admitted that some properties in the path of the $1.3 billion Gateway Upgrade North project will be resumed but said most of these are owned by the state government or council.