Traffic on the M1. Robina overpass. Picture: John Gass
Traffic on the M1. Robina overpass. Picture: John Gass

Billion-dollar congestion-buster for motorway

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull will today pledge a $1 billion congestion-buster to help slash travel times and end the road rage between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

In a win for families, tradies and tourists, the new cash splash will create more lanes, widen others and extend busways at two bottle necks that often become car parks as early as 5am.

Just days after announcing $150 million for upgrades to the M1 north of Brisbane, Mr Turnbull will return to Queensland today with his cheque book to fix congestion between Varsity Lakes and Tugun at the Gold Coast end of the motorway, and Brisbane's Eight Mile Plains and Daisy Hill at Logan.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Mr Turnbull told The Courier-Mail he wanted to ensure Queenslanders spent less time in traffic and more time with their families.

"The Turnbull Government understands the drive from the Gold Coast to Brisbane should take one hour, not two, and we are taking action to fix that,'' Mr Turnbull said.

"The M1 is one of the most important and heavily-congested routes in Queensland, with nearly 30 million tonnes of freight moving between NSW and Queensland each year and between 50,0000 and 155,00 vehicles a day using sections of the M1 from Springwood to Tugun."

The pre-Budget announcement, which requires the Queensland government to match the investment, has a number of components.

The Varsity Lakes to Tugun project is expected to include widening of both the north and southbound carriageways to six lanes, a direct northbound off-ramp from the M1 to Southport-Burleigh Rd, ramp upgrades with ramp controls, auxiliary lanes, pavement reconstruction works and better cycling and walking connections between centres.

The Eight Miles Plains to Daisy Hill project is expected to include widening the motorway from six to eight lanes, ramp consolidation, managed motorways technology, extending the busway to Springwood, supporting bus priority south of Springwood and better active transport connections between centres.

The State Government is already undertaking preliminary business cases for both projects, and it would be questionable if it did not stump up the cash.

The section of the M1 south of Brisbane can be gridlocked as early as 5am.
The section of the M1 south of Brisbane can be gridlocked as early as 5am.

It will be asked to provide its detailed business cases so the Commonwealth "can release this funding and get work under way ... as soon as possible".

The known problems of the bottlenecks were heeded by Queenslanders, who have stayed off the roads for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Commonwealth Games chairman Peter Beattie admitted this week some people may have stayed away from the event in fear of motoring mayhem.

"Naturally the campaign we ran about getting people off the M1 worked - we didn't want people on the M1 because we all know the M1 is a bit of a dog, so the last thing we wanted was people on it,'' Mr Beattie said on Sunday.

Federal Member for Forde Bert van Manen, who holds his seat by a wafer-thin margin of 0.6 per cent, said there needed to be the same standard of road from Brisbane to the Gold Coast, and the Logan stretch had been the missing link.

"This is the No.1 issue bar none (in Forde), and motorists are sick and tired of sitting in traffic,'' Mr van Manen said.

He said some tradies were left driving at 30km an hour from 5am.

Mr van Manen was among colleagues, including Karen Andrews and Ross Vasta, who lobbied for the cash.


Aside from the recent announcements, the Turnbull Government has previously committed funding to two projects on the M1 which are scheduled to start in coming months: $115 million for the Pacific Motorway-Gateway Merge and $110 million for the Pacific Motorway-Mudgeeraba to Varsity Lakes project.

The new Eight Mile Plains to Daisy Hill project is stage two of the Pacific Motorway-Gateway Merge project.