Bruce Highway, Haughton River Floodplain Upgrade, construct bridges and approaches

The Haughton River Floodplain Upgrade project includes safety and flood resilience upgrades to 13.5km of the Bruce Highway at Giru (midway between Ayr and Townsville). As part of the project we will construct 5 bridges and 2 cane rail overpasses, upgrade intersections and install wide centreline treatments.

The half-billion-dollar program of upgrades on the Bruce Highway between Ayr and Townsville will improve safety and flood resilience. 

This section of the Bruce Highway closes due to flooding, on average, every 1 to 2 years. These closures significantly affect locals, tourists, transport operators and other motorists.

Once the Haughton River Floodplain Upgrade project is complete, the severity and frequency of closures will be greatly reduced.

The floodplain is impacted by a variety of factors and is considered among the most complex in Queensland.


  • Improves safety
  • Increases capacity
  • Improves network efficiency
  • Improves flood immunity
  • Better road access
  • Contributes to economy
  • Contributes to regional growth

Key features

  • The Horseshoe Lagoon, Pink Lily and Haughton River bridges will be replaced with new, wider, higher-level bridges.
  • New crossings will be built over Healey’s Lagoon and the Reed Beds. 
  • 13.5km of the Bruce Highway will be upgraded (on approach to, and between the bridges), in some areas on a new alignment.
  • Two highway overpasses of the nearby cane tramway network will be constructed, removing the existing open-level crossings.
  • Rural intersections within the project area will be upgraded to improve safety.
  • Wide centre line treatments will be installed (similar to other Bruce Highway projects) to increase the distance between oncoming lanes of traffic and reduce the risk of head-on collisions.


The project is jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments on an 80:20 (federal:state) basis. Investment ID 8785

Total investment
$514.3 million
Australian Government
$411.47 million 
Queensland Government
$102.87 million

Current Status

The project is progressing well with traffic expected to be using the new Bruce Highway from mid-2021.  Traffic switches onto the new Bruce Highway will occur in three stages:
  • between Piralko Road and about Woodstock Giru Road in early August 2021
  • between Woodstock Giru Road and about Piralkor Road in mid- August 2021 and
  • between Piralko Road and Palm Creek in mid-September 2021. 

Ancillary works (including final pavement layer, demolition of old bridges and local road connections to the upgraded Bruce Highway) will be ongoing until late 2021, weather and construction conditions permitting.

There will be ongoing impacts to travel on this section of the Bruce Highway until late 2021 given the continuing works on, or in close proximity to, the new highway; the proximity of bridge demolition works; and expected date for installation of roadside lighting. Motorists should be prepared for ongoing traffic impacts until late 2021. 

Once the Haughton River Floodplain Upgrade project is complete, the severity and frequency of closures will be greatly reduced from an average of 55 hours to between 15 and 22 hours in a 1-in-50 year weather event.

ISCA Rating

The Haughton River Floodplain Upgrade project design phase was assessed against the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) criteria and achieved a result of ‘Excellent’.

The project will also be assessed against the ISCA criteria for construction (or ‘As Built’) phase, once complete.

Project timeline

  • March 2018: design and construct contract awarded to The Infrastructure Group; design started.
  • August 2018: start of preliminary works onsite as part of the project.
  • April 2019: start of major construction works.
  • August & September 2021: major traffic switches onto the new Bruce Highway (weather and construction conditions permitting)
  • Late-2021: project construction complete (weather and construction program permitting).

Project plan

Project plan with insets for Hodel Road intersection, Shirbourne Road intersection and Woodstock/Giru Road intersection

Project plan illustration

project plan illustration