IPSWICH'S long wait for a new motorway to Brisbane is over, with only a few "finishing touches" required before the $1.95 billion upgrade is officially complete.
This week has seen three-lane stretches opened to motorists for the first time and 80kmh limits replaced with 90kmh zones.
Sources involved in the construction of the new road say it is "98% complete" and could be completely signed off in as little as five weeks.
However, Queensland's Department of Main Roads has refused to give an estimate of when the upgrade will be finalised, only stating the project is "on schedule for completion by late this year".
But Federal MP for Blair Shayne Neumann confirmed work on the Dinmore to Goodna stretch of motorway was running well ahead of schedule. The Goodna to Wacol and Wacol to Darra sections were finished in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
"Construction is likely to be complete by mid-year, with all three lanes open to the public as of this week and a handful of finishing touches to go," Mr Neumann said yesterday.
Mr Neumann also confirmed the project would meet its revised budget of $1.95 billion, fully funded by the Federal Government.
"The motorway has been the bane of those living and working in Ipswich for a long time," he said.
"There was an 'I park on the Ipswich Motorway' bumper sticker for a reason.
"As well as enhancing opportunities for commerce and creating a faster and easier commute between Ipswich and Brisbane, the new motorway provides a new level of safety that the people of Ipswich deserve."
He said 95,000 cars a day were now using the road, up from 70,000 just five years ago. Volumes are expected to continue to climb as the western corridor grows.
The new motorway has a capacity of 180,000 cars a day, which it is expected to reach in 2032.
The last major outstanding job for contractor Origin Alliance is completion of the pedestrian bridge linking Dinmore train station to St Peter Claver College at the Aberdare St, River Rd and Brisbane Rd intersection.
As reported in The Queensland Times last week, the junction is the state's fourth-worst intersection crash hotspot.
"The bridge will ensure students and adults alike are no longer forced to cross such a busy stretch of road," Mr Neumann said.
Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale was thrilled with the new road.
"The motorway is looking fantastic and it generates a new level of respect for the city of Ipswich," he said.
"Every day the road becomes more bearable for the people of Ipswich."
The motorway upgrade was promised by Labor in the 2007 federal election in preference to the Coalition plan for a Goodna bypass. The upgrade's original budget was $1.1 billion but that was revised to $1.95 billion in 2009 after engineers discovered major subsidence problems caused by abandoned mineworks in the Redbank area.
With the completion of the Ipswich to Brisbane motorway upgrade, Mr Neumann said attention would turn to the Brisbane stretch of the road between Darra and Rocklea.
"Now that we have addressed one of the busiest sections of the motorway, an upgrade from Darra to Rocklea is something we wish to see commence very soon," Mr Neumann said.
- Northern Service Rd from Brisbane St in Ipswich Central to McEwan St, Riverview.
- Southern Service Rd connecting Law St, Redbank to Aberdare St, Dinmore.
- Smiths Rd extension connecting from Mine St, Redbank to Smiths Rd, Goodna.
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