The long-awaited $10 million project to improve the safety and widen the floodway at the Prairie Creek crossing on the Aramac-Torrens Creek Road is set to start this month.
The project will strengthen the pavement as well as widen the crossing situated 100km south of Torrens Creek, with the aim of reducing the number of times the crossing is closed due to flooding.
Federal assistant minister for freight transport Scott Buchholz was personally appraised of the importance that reducing the flood roadblock would have on the overall viability of the Hann Highway sealing and Melbourne-Cairns inland route when he visited the Flinders Shire in 2019.
It was estimated then that the road was closed three to four weeks each summer due to flooding.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce said the Prairie Creek investment formed part of a larger program of works on the Aramac-Torrens Creek Road.
"This investment will improve safety, efficiency and travel time reliability for the freight industry, tourists, and locals.
"As well as the $10 million Prairie Creek floodway upgrade, the Australian government is also providing funding to progressively widen and seal the Aramac - Torrens Creek Road.
"This is another example of our record $110 billion infrastructure investment plan in action, helping to connect communities and improve safety, while creating jobs and supporting our economic recovery."
According to Senator Susan McDonald, the federal government's Special Envoy for northern Australia, the road investment strategy was designed to improve safety and prevent outback communities from being cut off in the wet season.
"The amount of cattle, minerals and general freight using this road is phenomenal, and it's crucial that we keep trucks moving and moving them more safely," Ms McDonald said. "Of course, the most important freight of all is people, and improved roads reduce serious crash risks and also open up our rural areas to more tourism."
The $10 million project is part of the Australian and Queensland governments' Regional Economic Enabling Fund, which is delivering targeted upgrades to roads across regional Queensland on an 80:20 funding basis, and state Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the state government was proud to deliver upgrades to the community, which had been calling for action in the area.
"This is a key road for the local freight industry that is often impacted by flooding, so the upgrade will support these businesses into the future and make it safer for locals," Mr Bailey said.
"The road links Townsville and Rockhampton to the regional centres of Barcaldine, Cloncurry, Hughenden, Longreach, and Winton as well as providing an alternative route to the Landsborough, Flinders and Capricorn Highways in the event of flooding.
"With a total of $30 million in funding being pumped into upgrades on the Aramac-Torrens Creek Road, we're helping to provide more reliability for local businesses."
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The upgrade will be delivered by the Flinders Shire Council and mayor Jane McNamara said the work would be welcomed by the community.
"It's positive to see this funding going on the ground and improving access for freight and tourism," she said. "I thank locals for their patience while we complete these important works."
Construction is set to start this month and will continue until mid-2022, supporting 32 jobs in the region.
Cr McNamara said early rain had meant Prairie Creek had run and they'd had to wait for it to be dry enough to start the work.
"We should have a couple of clear months now, to try and get the bedding down before the wet season commences," she said.
She added that council's road crew had been doing all the Torrens Creek road sealing work, and that there was only 12km of dirt left on the road to seal.
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