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Gold Coast Highway (Burleigh Heads to Tugun) Multi-modal Corridor Study


Gold Coast Highway multi-modal study area mapThe Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) has undertaken a Multi-modal Corridor Study between Burleigh Heads and Tugun to review all previous planning and develop an updated transport strategy for the corridor. The study considered all transport modes including walking, bike riding, private vehicles and public transport to determine the preferred function of the Gold Coast Highway (GCH) for the next 20 years.

The study found the Gold Coast Highway between from Burleigh Heads to Tugun could be transformed into a high amenity community focused boulevard with priority given to walking, bike riding and a world class light rail system that enhances the liveability and character of the southern coastal suburbs. This aligns with the City of Gold Coast published transport strategy.

The study concluded a future southern extension of the light rail should follow the existing Gold Coast Highway alignment and that current property setbacks along the corridor are adequate for future requirements and property impacts will be limited.


The Gold Coast Highway (Burleigh Heads to Tugun) Multi-modal Corridor Study investigated several alternate routes parallel to the Gold Coast Highway and concluded a future southern extension of the light rail should follow the existing highway alignment. This would allow the light rail to service important cultural and urban attractors including the Burleigh Heads village centre, Palm Beach village centre, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Southern Cross University, the beaches and importantly the Gold Coast Airport.


The purpose of Gold Coast Highway (Burleigh Heads to Tugun) Multi-modal Corridor Study was to confirm the long-term strategic direction for the Gold Coast Highway Corridor from Burleigh Heads to Tugun.

As for other light rail projects, any funding decision on a light rail extension would be the subject of a feasibility study and a business case. There is currently no funding available to progress to a business case for the extension of light rail south of Burleigh Heads through Palm Beach and Tugun. 


The study identified the following opportunities that could be considered in future upgrade projects.

  • Improved Palm Beach Avenue precinct
    • There is the potential to provide alternatives for through traffic so the intersection of Palm Beach Avenue, Gold Coast Highway and Cypress Avenue can be transformed into a pedestrian friendly precinct with the opportunity for street front dining, shopping and urban renewal
  • Improved connectivity to the M1
    • The improved connectivity for northern Palm Beach to the M1 and its new service roads, through a widened M1 overpass at 19th Avenue proposed as part of the M1 (Varsity Lakes to Tugun) upgrade,  would significantly improve accessibility to and from Palm Beach.
  • Active transport
    • There is the opportunity to provide new dedicated bridge crossings for bikes and pedestrians across Tallebudgera and Currumbin Creeks. 
  • Oceanway
    • There is the opportunity to develop a beachfront Oceanway path along the full length of Palm Beach to provide high standard cycling and walking tracks. 
  • Toolona Street
    • Associated projects could improve the safety and efficiency of the Gold Coast Highway and Toolona Street intersection by providing alternative access points and reducing the number of traffic movements.  
  • Burleigh Heads National Park
    • The existing Burleigh Heads National Park would be preserved, and access improved to the southern entrance via active travel, light rail, bus and car options. 
  • Connectivity to Burleigh Ridge Park
    • In order to help protect wildlife and to improve active transport and bushwalking connectivity between Burleigh Heads National Park and Burleigh Ridge Park, a land bridge could be provided, protecting biodiversity by reconnecting ecological corridors. 

This project is funded by the Queensland Government with $1.4 million committed to undertake the transport planning study.

Project info

The Gold Coast Highway route was found to be the most direct and fastest of the corridors investigated. It also has the greatest potential for mode shift to public transport as it is close to where people already live; follows the alignment of the existing frequent trunk bus route (700); and provides the potential to transform the Gold Coast Highway into the Gold Coast Boulevard through careful design and treatment.Providing a light rail extension down the Gold Coast Highway also means the heavy rail corridor adjacent to the Pacific Motorway (M1) will remain protected for a future extension of the heavy rail which is intended to fulfil a longer distance regional transport function.

Current planning

Planning for the future of the transport network is critical to achieving local (Gold Coast City Transport Strategy 2031), state (the Queensland Government’s Shaping SEQ Regional Plan and Regional Transport Plan) and federal (the Australian Government’s Smart Cities Plan) planning targets and policies. 

TMR has approved corridor planning in place for the upgrade of the Gold Coast Highway through Palm Beach. Since 2003, TMR has been protecting the corridor against encroachment of development by conditioning building setbacks to allow for a future upgrade. Much of the corridor has already been protected under this scheme.

The Gold Coast Highway (Burleigh Heads to Tugun) Multi-modal Corridor Study has investigated whether existing planning will be adequate to accommodate the objectives of Shaping SEQ and the Gold Coast City Transport Strategy 2031 while balancing other considerations including current and future transport demands and the benefits and capacity gained from the fully-funded M1 (Varsity Lakes to Tugun) upgrade. 

Study findings


Buses currently play a very important role in the movement of people along and beyond the Gold Coast Highway corridor to a variety of destinations. Consistent with the approach adopted in the previous stages of the light rail, some bus routes will be shortened or replaced (such as the current route 700 and 777 buses along the Gold Coast Highway), while other services would be maintained and potentially enhanced to offer better connectivity overall. The study has identified the need for buses to continue to connect communities to the west of the Gold Coast Highway to key centres and interchanges with light rail. Connections between bus and light rail will be designed to be safe, convenient and accessible. Further work between TMR, TransLink and City of Gold Coast will confirm the design of transport interchanges and the network of services that use them align with their future planning. 

Property impacts

TMR has been protecting the corridor for future upgrades including conditioning setbacks as part of the development process. Setbacks are the distance between the kerb and a building and are intended to be wide enough to accommodate a corridor that allows for pedestrian paths, landscaping, traffic lanes and light rail.

The study has confirmed the current planning is generally adequate for future requirements; however, it will need further refinement as the level of design becomes more detailed. 

Traffic analysis

A detailed traffic analysis process was undertaken to determine the number of traffic lanes, intersection configuration and performance of the Gold Coast Highway now and into the future. The analysis confirmed that the nearby M1 (Varsity Lakes to Tugun) upgrade will perform a critical transport function on the southern Gold Coast providing the opportunity to:

  • accommodate a significant increase in vehicle demands including both local demands on service roads and regional demands on the motorway itself
  • improve local connections to the M1 and service roads including a new connection between the M1 and 19th Avenue.

This significant increase in capacity will provide through traffic with a viable alternative, reducing demand on the Gold Coast Highway. This provides an opportunity to redesign the Gold Coast Highway as a more multi-modal and pedestrian friendly corridor. Through careful analysis of travel demands and traffic movements throughout the network, this study has identified the opportunity for some sections of the Gold Coast Highway to be reduced from 4 lanes to 2 lanes in parts of Palm Beach and Currumbin without detrimental impacts on travel time and traffic capacity. This will involve a review of the number of intersections and relocation of some right turns to ensure that traffic flow and property access is maintained without significant additional property resumptions. This will be further explored through consultation with the local community. 

Community consultation

TMR would like to hear your views on the outcome of the Gold Coast Highway (Burleigh Heads to Tugun) Multi-modal Corridor Study and find out what is important to you. The community is invited to provide feedback on the corridor study now. 

View the project newsletter for more information about the study.

Community drop-in sessions that were scheduled to be held in March 2020 have been cancelled as a precautionary measure.

This is in line with Federal Government recommendations in response to COVID-19.

Community members are encouraged to provide feedback directly to the project team by email or phone.

Contact details

For more information about the Gold Coast Highway (Burleigh Heads to Tugun) Multi-modal Corridor Study, contact the project team.

Phone: 07 5563 6600 (Business hours only 8.30am—5pm, Monday to Friday)

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Read more about the Gold Coast Highway (Burleigh Heads to Tugun) Multi-modal Corridor Study.
Last updated
18 March 2020