The highway connects Darwin and Melbourne to the major import and export hubs of Port of Brisbane, Brisbane Airport, Wellcamp Airport and the future Inland Rail intermodal terminals at Ipswich and Toowoomba.
Infrastructure Australia has recognised the Warrego Highway as a priority initiative on its 2021 Infrastructure Priority List of nationally significant investments, and the highway is part of the nationally accredited Key Freight Route network.
The section of highway between Toowoomba and Ipswich has also been identified as a Road of Strategic Importance by the Australian Government.
The Warrego Highway is a vital transport link for cities such as Brisbane, Ipswich and Toowoomba and the rural communities of the West Moreton, Lockyer Valley, Darling Downs, Maranoa and South West Queensland.
At present the primary drivers of transport needs are:
- providing access between local communities and inter-regional connections between Toowoomba, Brisbane and Ipswich – three of the largest and fastest growing areas in Queensland
- enabling freight movement on the National Land Transport Network
- supercharging a SEQ Trade and Enterprise Spine between the Toowoomba Trade Gateway and the Australia TradeCoast
- strategic link for current defence mobilisation and a key transport link between three defence force bases (for example RAAF Amberley Base, Oakey Army Aviation Centre and Borneo Barracks)
- supporting response to national emergencies/disasters of a local, regional and national scale.
Consequently, the Warrego Highway is one of Queensland's busiest commuter and freight highways in the state. Between Ipswich and Toowoomba there are between 25,000 and 60,000 vehicles per day and up to 20% heavy vehicles. The Warrego Highway Upgrade Strategy (2012) outlines the priority infrastructure projects for the Warrego Highway between Dinmore and Charleville.
Most recently under Tranche 1 of the Warrego Highway Upgrade Program, the East and West Creek culvert upgrades project was finalised, completing delivery of the initial $635 million tranche.
Tranche 2 of the Warrego Highway Upgrade Program included the Toowoomba Bypass which is a 41km alternative crossing of the Toowoomba Range that was completed in 2019.
Tranche 3 includes planning for upgrades between Dinmore and Helidon Spa. Planning is scheduled to occur between 2022 and 2032 and will focus on investing the $546.84 million that has been announced by the Australian and Queensland governments.
The Warrego Highway Upgrade Program is jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland governments (including a portion from the Roads of Strategic Importance initiative) on an 80:20 basis.
Investment ID 1217978
To enable further implementation of the Warrego Highway Upgrade Strategy
, planning has started for projects between Dinmore and Helidon Spa. This is complemented by the Warrego Highway East Master Plan
that delivers corridor preservation and sequencing of projects between these 2 locations.
Projects previously completed under the Warrego Highway Upgrade Program include:
- Brigalow – Chinchilla upgrade was completed in May 2017 and was a $33.5 million construction project to widen 11km of the highway on the eastern approach to Chinchilla.
- Carroll Creek Culvert Replacement was completed in May 2019 and was a $4.9 million construction project to replace the culverts at the site west of Yuleba, improving productivity for freight operators.
- Chinchilla open level crossing upgrade was completed in August 2020 and was a $19 million construction project, improving safety at the open level crossing in Chinchilla and install traffic signals at the Colamba Street intersection.
- Chinchilla heavy vehicle route strategy was completed in late 2019 and was a $1 million planning project to investigate the need for a future heavy vehicle route for Chinchilla.
- Dalby eastern access upgrade was completed in November 2018 and was a $56 million construction project to improve motorist and pedestrian safety at major intersections through the eastern half of Dalby.
- Dalby western access upgrade was completed in November 2018 and was a $59 million construction project to improve safety at major intersections and accesses from nearby industrial developments on the western side of Dalby.
- Dalby to Miles pavement widening and safety upgrade was completed in December 2019 and was a $63.64 million construction project to improve safety by widening the road and installing wide centre line treatments.
- Dalby - Miles overtaking lanes were completed in March 2019 and was a $35 million construction project to provide additional overtaking lanes.
- Drillham – Palardo upgrade was completed in May 2020 and was a $13 million construction project to widen narrow sections of the highway to a safe standard for heavy vehicles.
- Jingi Jingi Creek bridge upgrade was completed in August 2017 and was a $10.6 million construction project to replace the deteriorated culverts and build a new concrete bridge.
- Jondaryan – Sabine Road intersection upgrade was completed in January 2017 and was a $3.9 million construction project to upgrade the intersection to provide heavy vehicle access to the highway.
- Miles western access upgrade was completed in October 2018 and was an $11.9 million construction project to widen and rehabilitate the highway through the town on the western outskirts.
- Oakey – Dalby overtaking lanes were completed in September 2017 and was a $36.8 million construction project to provide additional overtaking lanes at regular intervals in both directions.
- Oakey – Miles safety upgrade was completed in December 2020 and was a $63.64 million construction project to repair additional key sections of highway, install wide centre line and flatten slopes off the road edges.
- Oakey to Miles safety upgrade stage 2 was completed in December 2019 and was an $11.65 million construction project to improve safety with additional stopping bays, removing dangerous drop-offs and roadside hazards.
- Toowoomba Bypass was opened to traffic in September 2019 and was a $1.6 billion construction project to provide an alternative crossing of the Toowoomba Range.
- Toowoomba – Oakey duplication stage 1 was completed in September 2017 and was a $62.7 million construction project to extend the 4-lane Warrego Highway from Nugent Pinch Road to west of Charlton.
- Toowoomba – Oakey duplication stage 2 was completed in March 2018 and was a $71.1 million construction project extending the 4-lane highway from stage 1 west to Kingsthorpe.
- Toowoomba – Oakey duplication stage 3 was completed in July 2018 and was a $2 million planning project to investigate the proposed 4-lane highway from Kingsthorpe to Oakey.
- Warrego Highway East and West Creek culvert upgrades were completed in November 2020 with $21.3 million allocated to improve flood immunity in the Toowoomba central business district.