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Why Shute Harbour Road Flood Upgrades Delayed In Whitsundays

By Ray White Whitsunday

Cars navigate Hamilton Plains on Shute Harbour Rd after it became officially closed to traffic because of flooding.

A multimillion upgrade of an arterial road connecting Proserpine to Airlie Beach has been indefinitely delayed.

It is understood the $25m of flood immunity works to a 1.5km section of Shute Harbour Rd at Hamilton Plains were scheduled to begin mid-year.

But the Department of Transport and Main Roads has updated the project’s website to state the timing was “subject to further planning, consideration and negotiation with the Australian government”.

Whitsunday Regional Council mayor Ry Collins said he understood the “problematic” project had gone out to tender but now the state government required more funding from the federal government.

“Even though I’m a new mayor, I’ve sort of seen it’s been kicked around like a proverbial political football for a couple of years,” Mr Collins said.

He said Main Roads had not advised the council of delays to the Shute Harbour Rd project, as far as he was aware, and he was motivated to open better lines of communication when he met with Transport Minister Bart Mellish in June.

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Ry Collins says it is disappointing the Shute Harbour Rd upgrades have been delayed. Picture: Fiona Kroll

Mr Collins said the regular wet season flooding of Shute Harbour Rd caused “significant disruptions” with Proserpine becoming disconnected from the coastal towns of Airlie Beach, Cannonvale and Shute Harbour affecting access to work, schools and the hospital.

He said it also affected tourism with Whitsunday Coast Airport welcoming a record number of travellers who then could not access their destination with the only detour via Gregory River Rd also subject to flooding.

Whitsunday Regional Council flood cams captured a council team doing emergency repairs to Shute Harbour Rd at Hamilton Plains after heavy rain and flooding caused potholes.

Mr Collins said the council was also waiting to receive an update on the flood immunity upgrades to the Bruce Highway at Goorganga Plains, which in January 2022 was shut to motorists for days.

The project’s website states the $15m business case study was completed in mid-2023 but there is no further information as to what comes next.

“It is a very significant upgrade and would require a significant funding commitment from both state and federal governments,” Mr Collins said.

He said the council’s focus for now was “definitely more on Hamilton Plains” considering funding was already put aside.

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