Bruce Highway Link Flood Study

Queensland, Australia

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The 1,700 kilometre Bruce Highway is Queensland’s major north-south road corridor, connecting coastal population centres from Brisbane to Cairns and supporting 58 percent of Queensland’s population.

The highway is a vital part of the national Land Transport Network, connecting west-east freight networks to a significant resource sector and various inland agriculture production areas with 11 coastal ports. It is a major tourism route and important connector for remote communities.

Historically, flooding on the Bruce Highway has been a source of major delays, with closures lasting up to two weeks. These delays isolate northern communities, cut off key supply chains and negatively impact regional economic development.

The Bruce Highway Link Flood Study is the largest link flood study to be completed across the world. The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) engaged AECOM and partners to use innovative continuous simulation hydrology to analyse the frequency and duration of multiple, simultaneous road closures along the entire length of the highway. The team successfully achieved its three major outcomes of assessing the current reliability of the highway, determining a new Flood Vision Standard and developing a forward program of prioritised flood upgrade projects which enabled the flood link reliability to be better determined. The recommended Flood Vision Standard is a 10-fold reduction in time of closure compared to the previous standard and will provide a uniform standard of reliability for the highway into the future.

The benefit of this link flood study methodology is that it provided TMR with broader justification, backed by scientific evidence, to support the prioritisation of certain flood projects which would otherwise be difficult to justify economically. The upgrade of these crossings is important to achieving overall network resilience. Using this methodology provided a holistic network approach to improving the reliability and enhancing the regional and remote communities that rely on the Bruce Highway for their livelihoods.