The footprint for the future upgrade of the Bruce Highway between Caloundra Road and Sunshine Motorway has been dramatically decreased from 35 hectares down to 24 hectares.
Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Scott Emerson, has confirmed the finer details of the preferred plan for the project.
“Stage one, which involves the realignment of part of Steve Irwin Way, will see 13 hectares cleared from a 15 hectare corridor to the south of the existing Caloundra Road interchange,” Mr Emerson said.
“This project, to upgrade the Bruce Highway, is vital to improve the safety and capacity along this route.”
As part of the works, a 200m section of Steve Irwin Way, north of Mooloolah River Cemetery will be realigned to allow the existing road to connect to the upgraded Caloundra Round interchange.
Member for Glass House Andrew Powell said as well as reducing the project’s overall footprint from 35 to 24 hectares, Transport and Main Roads has been able to ensure no National Park or environmentally-sensitive land to the immediate north-west of the Caloundra Road interchange will be affected.
Future plans include widening the highway from six to ultimately eight lanes, and would require an additional six hectares of state forest to be cleared from a remaining nine hectares.
Mr Powell said the planning study involved extensive environmental investigations to ensure any potential impacts would be minimised and closely managed.
“Investigations so far have included assessments of the regional ecosystems, koala habitat and targeted surveys for fauna species known to occur in close proximity to the project area,” he said.
“When the project moves into the detailed design phase, more targeted environmental investigations will be undertaken and suitable mitigation measures and treatments will be considered.”
In April the federal government announced $400 million for stage one priority works. Funding for future stages is yet to be confirmed.