Haughton River Floodplain Upgrade completed

Published Wednesday, 03 August, 2022 at 12:35 PM


Premier and Minister for the Olympics
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

Minister for Transport and Main Roads
The Honourable Mark Bailey

The Bruce Highway between Ayr and Townsville is safer and more flood resilient after the completion of the $514.34 million Haughton River Floodplain Upgrade.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was in North Queensland to officially open the major project today.

“This half a billion-dollar project which began in 2019, included building five bridges, two cane rail overpasses, intersection upgrades and the installation of wide centre line treatments to reduce head-on crashes,” the Premier said.

"Travelling between Ayr and Townsville you will notice the old, narrow Haughton River Bridge is entirely gone. There are new bridges in previously flood-prone areas, and all of the intersections with the Bruce Highway in this area have been made safer.

"This has been an incredible project which motored on right through the global pandemic, supporting 544 jobs and helping our economic recovery.”

Federal Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Minister Catherine King said the project was jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments.

“The Bruce Highway is truly the lifeblood of Queensland, ensuring communities are safely connected up and down the east coast," she said.

“Projects like the Haughton River Floodplain Upgrade ensure that not only is this critical route safer for all road users, but it will enhance regional connectivity for key industries and boost accessibility for rural residents.

“This project will reduce the frequency and duration of road closures due to flooding on the Bruce Highway at Horseshoe Lagoon, Haughton River, Pink Lily and the Reed Beds.”

Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said during the 2019 North and Far North Queensland Monsoon trough, the Bruce Highway was closed at the Haughton River due to floodwater and debris inundation for six days.

"That's the longest recorded closure,” he said.

"Typically, floodwaters force the closure of the Bruce Highway at the Haughton River Bridge every one to two years.

"But now the project is complete, the severity and frequency of highway closures due to flood inundation will be greatly reduced.

"We thank motorists, landholders beside the highway, and the Giru community for their patience and understanding during the works."

Minister for Resources and Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the project had greatly improved the flood resilience of the Bruce Highway at Giru.

“Low-lying and flood prone bridges over the Haughton River, Pink Lily Lagoon and Horseshoe Lagoon were replaced with higher, wider and more flood resilient infrastructure,” he said.

“The old, narrow Haughton River Bridge was a safety concern as it was only 6.2 metres wide and no longer had rails due to previous strikes and debris inundation.

“The new bridge, which also now includes rails for safety, is 10 metres wide and 40 metres longer than the one it replaced.

“Two bridges were also built over previously flood-prone and heavily culverted sections of highway near Piralko Road and the Reed Beds.”

Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said the works also included the widening of 13.5 kilometres along the Bruce Highway.

“This meant they could construct one-metre-wide separations between lanes to reduce the likelihood of head-on collisions, making it safer,” he said.

“Sadly in my former career as a paramedic I’ve seen some tragedies on our roads so upgrades like this are very important.”

Member for Mundingburra Les Walker said this project meant access to and from Townsville during severe weather events wouldn’t be cut off as much.

“On average the highway at the Haughton River floodplain was previously closed for 3.5 days a year due to flooding, forcing transport operators and the travelling public to wait for waters to recede,” he said.

“Now the project is complete, the highway is only expected to be inundated for an average of one hour a year during severe weather.”

The project is jointly funded (80:20) by the Australian and Queensland governments.

Project timeline:

  • The Infrastructure Group (a joint venture between Bileby Holdings, BMD Construction, JF Hull and Albem Pty Ltd) was awarded a design and construction contract for the project in March 2018.
  • Early works began late 2018.
  • Construction began in early 2019.
  • Motorists began using the first 10 kilometres of upgraded Bruce Highway in August last year.
  • The remaining 3.5 kilometres was open to motorists in October last year.
  • Construction reached practical completion last month.
  • Just minor works to continue this month.


Media contact:

Zoe Russell (Premier’s office) – 0439 982 347