The Queensland government is continuing its commitment to the Inland Freight Route, a critical freight corridor between Mungindi and Charters Towers, by starting the necessary early works now.
Dubbed the 'second Bruce' Highway, federal Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Minister Catherine King delayed federal funding for the 1185-kilometre project at the recommendation of the strategic review of the $120b Infrastructure Investment Program, saying the government was delaying money for its construction until the planning process had been "properly carried out".
Ms King also said federal funding splits on regional roads would be reduced from 80:20 to 50:50, which the state Department of Transport and Main Roads estimated would cost Queenslanders between $600m and $1b per annum.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the 'second Bruce' project was essential as Queensland's population continued to boom, adding that the state was honouring its 80:20 commitment, with $200m allocated, or more than half the state's commitment, to accelerate early works delivery.
She called on the federal government to keep its commitment to the Inland Freight Route and honour the 80:20 agreed funding arrangement.
"It's only right that Queensland gets its fair share - no more, no less," she said.
RACQ managing director David Carter welcomed the State Government's $107m commitment to get early works started.
"Our members tell us loud and clear that they're consistently unhappy with the Bruce Highway and we need an alternative route through regional Queensland," he said.
"If and when it's completed, it will take a lot of pressure off the Bruce which gets banged up each and every year from heavy use and natural disasters.
"We need important road upgrades, like those proposed in the Inland Freight Route. Widening narrow sections, improving surface conditions and providing proper flood immunity, particularly in regional Queensland, will help improve safety."
The Inland Freight Route would upgrade the existing Carnarvon, Dawson and Gregory Highways.
Mr Carter said RACQ was concerned by the federal government's recent infrastructure review, which flagged a reduction in the funding split for nationally significant projects, from 80:20 to a 50:50 model.
"We don't want to see any shift in funding which could delay this project any further. Last year Queensland recorded its worst road toll in more than a decade, and unfortunately this year is not looking much better," he said.
"It's forecast the Inland Freight Route could reduce truck movements on the Bruce by up to half so if it gets finished that's great news for safety, motorists, productivity and tourism."