Works have officially commenced on the $1 billion Pacific Motorway upgrade from Varsity Lakes to Tugun – the Gold Coast’s largest road project.
Concrete safety barriers have been put up, VMS boards installed, and speeds reduced to make way for the mammoth project – jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland governments – which will see the M1 transformed into at least six lanes from Brisbane to Tugun.
It comes as another milestone is reached on the $218.5 million M1 upgrade between Mudgeeraba and Varsity Lakes, with the new Stapley Drive bridge expected to open to traffic next week.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison detailed that the project was fast-tracked to help bust congestion and create a jobs pipeline to help in the recovery from COVID-19.
“We’re getting moving as quickly as we can to get shovels in the ground and workers on-site,” the Prime Minister said.
“Our $500 million investment to upgrade the M1 will boost jobs and get workers home sooner and safer.”
“This isn’t just a project with significant long-term benefits, it’s going to be delivering benefits right now with more jobs to help local workers as Australia moves past the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Morrison stated.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk added the project was not only about tackling congestion in Australia’s sixth-largest city, but also keeping Queenslanders in jobs.
“This project will support more than 830 jobs and we’re going to keep delivering jobs and infrastructure for the Gold Coast and the whole of Queensland,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“We’re starting before the current section is complete because we want to see progress and jobs continue.”
“Getting started on this project sooner rather than later means when we come out of COVID-19, Queensland’s economy can support as many jobs as possible,” she said.
The project will be divided into three packages, with the section from Varsity Lakes to Burleigh the first to be delivered (Package A).
A construction contract for Package A was recently awarded to Seymour Whyte Constructions.
Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure, Alan Tudge, said that it is rare to see a project of this size start construction within several weeks after contract award, but the Government knows it is vital to get this project up and running at a time when creating and maintaining jobs has never been more critical.
“This is just one of our major infrastructure projects that will be essential in the post-pandemic economic recovery,” he said.
According to Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister, Mark Bailey, close to 80 per cent of businesses currently working on the first M1 upgrade between Mudgeeraba and Varsity Lakes are local.
He expects Gold Coasters will see that level of local engagement replicated on an upgrade five times the size – benefitting the city for years to come.
“The Queensland Government has secured $2.5 billion to build a better M1, and to create more than 2,000 jobs and plenty of work for dozens of local businesses,” Mr Bailey said.
“Getting shovels in the ground now means that once works wrap up on the Mudgeeraba to Varsity Lakes section in mid-2020, there won’t be a pause in much-needed jobs.”
“Attacking coronavirus means going at it from all angles. That includes the economic front, where major construction projects like this are crucial to keeping Queenslanders employed and assisting businesses as much as possible.”
Federal Member for McPherson, Karen Andrews, said it was a win-win-win situation, particularly as the Gold Coast feels the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Getting this project started ahead of time is a win for jobs, a win for our economy and a win for Gold Coast drivers,” Mrs Andrews said.
“By relieving the southern Gold Coast of the constant traffic bottlenecks, we can reduce travel times and increase freight efficiency.”
The project will feature the region’s first Diverging Diamond Interchange and more lanes for the 10-kilometre stretch between Varsity Lakes and Tugun, as well as upgrades to the Burleigh Heads, Tallebudgera and Palm Beach exits.
The project will also include building a new service road bridge over Tallebudgera Creek and connecting a new western service road (one lane each way) between Palm Beach (Exit 92) and Tallebudgera (Exit 89). The corridor south of Varsity Lakes will be preserved for a future rail extension.
The $1 billion M1 Pacific Motorway – Varsity Lakes to Tugun project is being jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland governments, with both governments contributing $500 million each.