by Jacob Carson
WORK is steadily progressing on the multi-million dollar upgrade to the Bruce Hwy, with the very real possibility the new section could be opened by the end of the year.
Section C of the larger Cooroy to Curra upgrade has seen a bypass constructed between Traveston and Woondum.
"Pavement works are under way and bridge construction is on track for completion in the coming months,” a Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said.
"The centre barrier is currently being built, which will separate opposing lanes of traffic to reduce the risk of head-on crashes.”
It's hoped in addition to providing a much-needed boost to road safety on this stretch of the highway, Transport and Main Roads said Section C would also increase flood immunity, reduce travel times for freight operators and lessen congestion. With weather and construction demands taken into consideration, the new highway is aiming for a pre-Christmas opening.
"The $384.2 million project is still expected to be complete in early 2018, but will open to traffic sooner so work can safely be completed on the final connections between existing and new highway,” the spokesperson said.
"While there will still be some work to do to complete the project, motorists will get to enjoy the full benefit of driving on the new highway.”
Outside of construction zones, the new four-lane divided highway will have a 110km/h speed limit across a distance of 10.5 kilometres.
In addition to the safety benefits the upgrades are slated to bring to the region, the Transport Department is also emphasising the economic benefits its construction has brought to the region.
"Overall, the upgrade is expected to generate 426 jobs over the life of the project,” the department spokesperson said.
Following the completion of Section C, attention will then turn to the Woondum to Curra stage.
When completed the Bruce Hwy will completely bypass the Gympie CBD, with a corridor running east of town near the rail line.
Upon reaching Old Maryborough Rd, the 26km section will then travel through the edge of Curra State Forest to minimise impact on private land.