A $514.3 million road project south of Townsville is drawing on innovation and detailed local studies to deal with one of the most complex floodplain sites in Queensland.
Transport and Main Roads Northern District director Stephen Mallows said an average of 544 direct jobs would be supported over the life of the Haughton River Floodplain Upgrade project.
The department is progressing detailed design for the project with principal contractor The Infrastructure Group (TIG) – a joint venture between Bielby, BMD Constructions, JF Hull and Albem, with ARUP Group and HDR Inc.
“The Haughton River floodplain is considered among the most complex in Queensland,” Mr Mallows said.
“It is impacted by a variety of factors including the Bruce Highway, North Coast rail line, cane tramways, weirs, levees, nearby lagoons and a creek.
“We have undertaken extensive and detailed studies to ensure the new infrastructure would not adversely impact nearby properties or the downstream community of Giru.”
Mr Mallows said the department was also adopting innovative approaches to deal with project complexities.
“For example, we investigated driven tubular steel piles, with a reinforced concrete pile shaft, for the bridge foundations and they meet our requirements,” he said.
“This assessment also led to a new departmental technical specification, which will potentially see the piles used in future projects.”
In the case of the Haughton River, where solid rock is located 40m below the river bed, the department found that using these piles represented a sound engineering solution.
These piles are suitable in certain situations where the depth to solid rock makes it impractical to use extended steel tubes with rock sockets.
“We will continue to investigate further options to use innovative technologies and products as we undertake detailed design over coming months and during construction,” Mr Mallows said.
The aim of the project is to improve safety and flood resilience on the Bruce Highway between Townsville and Ayr, in a trouble spot where Haughton River overflows close the road every one or two years on average.
The works will include upgrading 13.5km of highway and building new bridges at Healey’s Lagoon and the Reed Beds as well as a wider, higher level Haughton River Bridge.
The project will also improve safety through realignment of the Reed Beds curve, upgrades of existing rural intersections, building two overpasses at cane tramway open level crossings, and installing wide centreline treatments.
“Once complete, this project will provide safer conditions for motorists and improve flood immunity on the Bruce Highway, with the new Haughton River Bridge built to withstand a one-in-100 year flood event,” Mr Mallows said.
“The upgrades will also boost economic development by providing a more reliable transport link to North Queensland and also engaging local businesses throughout construction. “
The department is still working with TIG to determine project staging and says it is committed to using the people, goods and services available in the region.
TIG is planning an industry procurement information session late this year, allowing local suppliers and sub-contractors to review their expressions of interest for work packages.