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

The Haughton River Floodplain Upgrade project included safety and flood resilience upgrades to 13.5km of the Bruce Highway at Giru (midway between Ayr and Townsville). The project scope included construction of 5 bridges and 2 cane rail overpasses, upgrading intersections and installing 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.

Now that 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 have been replaced with new, wider, higher-level bridges which have now opened to traffic.
  • New crossings have been built over Healey’s Lagoon and the Reed Beds. 
  • 13.5km of the Bruce Highway has been upgraded (on approach to, and between the bridges), in some areas on a new alignment.
  • Two highway overpasses of the nearby cane tramway network have been constructed and opened to traffic, removing the existing open-level crossings.
  • Rural intersections within the project area have been upgraded to improve safety.
  • Wide centre line treatments have been 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 millionĀ 
Queensland Government
$102.87 million

Current Status

The project was completed in July 2022.

The first 2 traffic switches onto the new Bruce Highway occurred in late August 2021; and the final traffic switch, which saw motorists using the entire 13.5km of new Bruce Highway, occurred in October 2021. 

While the project reached practical completion in June 2022, ancillary works (including local road connections to the upgraded Bruce Highway, construction of private property accesses and finalising drainage) were ongoing until July 2022.

Now that 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’.

An assessment against the ISCA criteria for construction (or ‘As Built’) phase is planned, now that the project is 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 & October 2021: major traffic switches onto the new Bruce Highway (weather and construction conditions permitting)
  • July-2022: project construction completed.

Project plan

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

Project plan illustration

project plan illustration

Image of a car driving along the new Haughton River bridge.
The new Haughton River bridge is wider and includes rails for the safety of the travelling public; as well as being higher with less piers for flood resilience. 

A highway overpass over a local road
As part of the project, two highway overpasses of local roads and cane rail have been constructed to improve safety. Including as shown at Shirbourne Road.

A new bridge has been constructed at the Reed Beds.
A new bridge has been constructed at the Reed Beds, replacing what was previously a section of flood-prone and heavily culverted pavement. The old, low-lying pavement shown in this image will be excavated, and a Sarri Road extended to meet the new Bruce Highway alignment.