Australia’s Queensland Government has announced a $107m early works package to commence the construction of Queensland’s Inland Freight Route in the country.

Also called ‘Second Bruce’, the 1,185km-long route will form a critical freight corridor between Mungindi at the New South Wales border and Charters Towers in North Queensland.

Work being performed will provide a viable north-south alternative to the existing Bruce Highway.

The newly awarded early works package will help in resolving the existing constraints primarily in the north of Injune and Belyando.

It specifically includes upgrading two bridges between Injune and Rolleston, as well as a culvert between Roma and Injune, both located on the Carnarvon Highway.

In addition, the package includes works to strengthen and widen the road between Clermont and Charters Towers on the Gregory Developmental Road Belyando.

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Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said: “The Bruce Highway is the single most important highway in the country.

“By building a better Inland Freight Route targeted at taking trucks off the Bruce, we are ensuring strong supply chains and driving economic growth for regional industries and communities.

“Not only that, upgrades will improve connectivity and safety to help keep our state moving with a viable alternative to the Bruce Highway.

“Our vast state has the largest regional road network in the nation; any proposed changes from 80/20 funding to 50/50 will have a serious impact on our regional communities.”

A total of $200m has already been allocated towards the project, which is more than half of the government’s commitment to speed up the project’s delivery, starting with a $19.7m bridge upgrade.

Revamping the bridge, over the Dawson River north of Injune, will help in widening the bridge from 7.4m to 10.3m.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk: “Building Second Bruce is essential as Queensland population continues to boom. It will provide an alternative route for truckies and keep communities connected during major flood events.”

In 2020, the Queensland state government announced the beginning of a $481m project to upgrade Bruce Highway between Edmonton and Gordonvale.