The $301.25 million project is jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland governments on an 80:20 basis, with the Australian Government contributing $241 million and the Queensland Government contributing $60.25 million.
In May 2014, the Bruce Highway Upgrade – Maroochydore Road and Mons Road Interchanges project (BHMIP) was included in the Australian Government’s Fix the Bruce Highway Policy, which was announced in the 2014 Federal Budget, and is now part of the Bruce Highway Upgrade Program (BHUP).
This upgrade project was included in the BHUP because of congestion issues at the existing Maroochydore Road/Nambour Connection Road grade separated roundabout, with traffic queuing back along the exit ramps onto the Bruce Highway impacting highway safety and transport efficiency. In addition, there is a high crash rate at this intersection, and congestion and safety issues are expected to worsen as traffic volumes increase towards 2031 and beyond.
Other related congestion and safety issues in the BHMIP study area include local traffic using the Bruce Highway immediately south of the Maroochydore Road interchange, thus increasing congestion on the interchange. Traffic flows at the interchange interact closely with traffic movements originating and ending at the Mons Road interchange, (which is approximately 420 metres south of the Maroochydore Road interchange), adding to the congestion and safety issues the project aims to resolve.
The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) engaged WSP in 2017 to prepare a business case in collaboration with Building Queensland, outlining the costs, benefits and risks, focusing on community benefits of the proposed upgrade.
In early 2018, WSP was commissioned by TMR to deliver the preliminary, detailed and tender design for the upgrade. We are now providing a Technical Advisor role during the construction phase which is scheduled for completion by late 2022, weather and construction conditions permitting.
Improving Safety, Flood Resilience and Congestion
The project aims to reduce congestion at the Maroochydore and Mons Road interchanges, eliminate vehicle queuing onto the Bruce Highway, provide more reliable and reduced travel times for freight transport as well as meet community demand for pedestrian and cycling access and infrastructure. It will also enable motorists to travel between the Maroochydore Road and Mons Road interchanges without having to use the Bruce Highway, separating local and regional traffic to protect the Bruce Highway as a national freight route.
To promote a more holistic design for the project, WSP integrated the following features:
- constructing a new four lane, eastbound bridge over the Bruce Highway from Nambour Connection Road to Maroochydore Road
- converting the existing free-flowing Maroochydore Road/Nambour Connection Road roundabout to a fully controlled signalised interchange
- extending and widening all on and off-ramps to the Maroochydore Road Interchange
- removing the north-facing ramps at the Mons Road interchange
- connecting the Mons Road and Maroochydore Road interchanges via two new service lane roads (on the eastern and western sides of the Bruce Highway)
- upgrading the Mons Road southbound entry ramp and removing the Chevallum Road north-facing ramp
- widening Mons Road under the Bruce Highway
- relocating the northbound off-ramp at Chevallum Road further south
- delivering new pedestrian and cyclist connectivity through the new Maroochydore Road interchange to the eastern service road.
Project Visualisation to Bring the Project to Life
To gain a better understanding of motorist behaviour on the Bruce Highway, WSP's collaborative teams developed a Virtual Reality (VR) ‘digital twin’ of the Bruce Highway Maroochydore Road and Mons Road interchanges and created a series of human factor experiments. The model was created by taking different design layers from Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tropology, civil and earth works and geometric road design to create one central model.
Forty-eight participants from local, regional and international areas were involved in the analysis and tested more than 244 drives through various scenarios on the Bruce Highway using VR wrap-around headsets and screens to create the most realistic experience. By monitoring near misses, late lane changes, sudden braking and trends in speed, the team could deliver the best solutions for the project's design and create the best end user experience. This human-centered design approach lifted the assessment of the design from code compliance to one that addressed and will achieve a higher duty of care.
For community engagement and understanding, WSP created interactive mapping systems embedded into the TMR project web page to present the project to the public and convey key changes, impacts and outcomes of the upgrades. For stakeholders involved in the wider project team, a web portal was created enabling teams to collaborate more easily when reviewing works, addressing challenges, sharing ideas, and cross-checking multiple discipline designs.
Minimising Environmental Impacts
To minimise the environmental impacts in the project area, flora and fauna and air and water quality assessments were undertaken. The assessments during the design phase included the following:
- Investigation of koala habitats
- Flora and fauna assessment to identify the presence of threatened species and fauna movement corridors
- Air quality and water quality baseline assessments to establish a benchmark to monitor the performance of the construction contractor
- Investigation of vibration sensitive receptors to determine the extent of impact and required amelioration
- Review and mapping of watercourses traversing the area to identify fish passage requirements and establish compliance requirements for the project.
Ensuring Community Benefits
With the addition of active transport provisions for cyclists and pedestrians, the upgrades ease congestion and create a safer, multi-purpose environment for vulnerable road users.
A risk-based approach was adopted for the design development process and to address Safety in Design. This was reflected in the design for the integrated design of bridge structures, ground improvements, drainage and roadworks across the Eudlo Creek flood plain ensuring it is safe to build and ensure that the permanent works are compatible with construction staging arrangements, program constraints, and staging arrangements can be delivered without the potential to generate flow-on impacts during construction.