One of north Queensland’s largest-ever road infrastructure projects – the jointly funded $497.3 million Mackay ring road – is now operational.
The 11.3-kilometre ring road connects the south of Mackay at Stockroute Road roundabout to the Bruce Highway, north of Mackay near Bald Hill Road.
The Bruce Highway – Mackay ring road project was jointly funded by the Australian Government committing $397.9 million and the Queensland Government $99.4 million.
Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey was there for the celebrations and said the ring road’s nine overpasses and four bridges were game-changers that would transform how critical freight and the sugar city’s 116,000-strong community travels.
“This is a cornerstone project for Mackay built by Mackay,” said Bailey.
“More than 80 per cent of people involved in this project were from this region – that includes builders, suppliers, landscapers, engineers and traffic workers.
“Every one of them played a role in creating a project that will link the region’s $17.4 billion economy to its port, Queensland and the world.
Bailey said the work here paves the way for the region’s next wave of road projects including the $120 million Mackay Northern Access upgrade, Walkerston Bypass and port access road: a $1 billion pipeline of road projects that are expected to support another 1,000 jobs.
“Already the first 2.6km section of the Walkerston bypass has been delivered as part of this project, and we are ramping up deliver the rest,” said Bailey.
State Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert heralded the project’s completion as a win for the region.
“Our community has bucked the national trend when it comes to jobs because of the Queensland Government’s billion-dollar program of roads for our region and the ring road,” said Gilbert.
As part of the occasion, Gilbert helped announce the names of the ring road’s new bridges after the community was invited to provide suggestions for the Pioneer River bridge, and smaller bridges over Lagoon Creek, Fursden Creek and Fursden Creek Overflow.
Suggestions were considered by a naming committee including local historian Berenice Wright OAM; Yuwi custodians Gary Mooney and Patricia Corrie; Gerry Doyle, a retired police officer and volunteer school chaplain; and Taleiyah Minniecon, Mackay 2019 Young Citizen of the Year.
With more than 80 submissions received the new structures will be named Greg Sutherland Bridge; Thomas Powell Bridge; William and Frank Guthrie Bridge; and Margaret Insch Bridge.
Greg Sutherland was a well-known and respected member of the local community, remembered for his contribution to Rugby League and his work with young people.
He proudly promoted his South Sea Islander heritage and was recognised as a key advocate for Indigenous, Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander communities, helping improve opportunities for young people with skills training and employee assistance.
Thomas Powell was a leader in the sugar industry in the early 1900s and his family still have cane farming land in the area today.
The Guthrie brothers helped rebuild the city of Mackay following the devastating cyclone of 1918.
Margaret Insch was a midwife who delivered 99 babies in the Pioneer Valley in the late 1800s, at times crossing flooded rivers and creeks in the middle of the night to treat those in need.
“It’s Mackay locals and businesses that helped build it, the Mackay community that will reap the benefits of safer, faster travel throughout the city, and it’s some of Mackay’s biggest names who we’re honouring by naming the new bridges after them,” said Gilbert.
As part of the opening celebrations, all local workers were acknowledged for their valuable contributions and invited to join classic car club members in a drive along the new road alignment.