How the Bruce Highway project will improve Queensland's traffic

    Friday, June 26, 2015

    In 2012, the Bruce Highway Technical Advisory Group was put in charge of creating a 10 year 'Crisis Action Plan' to address the issues posed by Queensland's Bruce Highway.

    Upon consulting traffic engineers as to what could be done, the authority created an action plan that outlined the motorways problems and actionable solutions. 

    Why the Bruce Highway? 

    The Bruce Highway is approximately 1,700 kilometres long, and serves as Queensland's primary north-south transportation corridor, running from Cairns to Brisbane along the coast. Given that these, as well as the other cities along the Pacific Ocean are essential to the state economy, it's not surprising that authorities are giving so much attention to renovating the motorway.

    There's a reason why the Technical Advisory Group referred to the Bruce Highway as a crisis. Studies have identified the corridor as one of the most dangerous roads in Australia. More than 17 per cent of fatal road accidents occur on the Bruce Highway.

    Flooding is another major concern. Authorities have identified nine areas that, on average, close for longer than 48 hours every year due to ineffective water engineering solutions. An another six locations are shut down for more than five days because of the same issue. 

    On top of these concerns, both urban and rural traffic along the Bruce Highway is expected to increase in tandem with economic development. Congestion has worsened from Brisbane to Maryborough and other areas. 

    Some concepts to remember

    To ensure the Bruce Highway can accommodate more commuters and commercial trucks, traffic engineers assigned to the project must keep a few principles in mind: 

    • Average travel speed (ATS) is greatly impacted by the number of heavy-duty vehicles on the road. 
    • For the most part, the ATS is higher in median lane than it is in the shoulder lane, even when traffic density is the same between the two. 
    • It is often advisable to regard each lane separately when performing traffic studies, because lane position typically has the greatest effect on traffic performance.

    What's being done to fix the Bruce Highway? 

    To address flooding issues, engineers are drafting solutions that will dramatically decrease delays. The goal is to design embankments that can withstand peak flood events. 

    Extra lanes are scheduled to be constructed in key rural areas were only temporary relief is required. Two-lane portions near metropolitan areas will be upgraded to four-lane or six-lane stretches, depending on current congestion data. 

    The project is currently underway, and is scheduled to be completed by 2022. It's hoped that these additions will sustain future traffic trends.