Design has started on the $103 million Bruce Highway – Saltwater Creek Upgrade project, north of Maryborough.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the project would improve flood immunity on the highway, by building new bridges at Saltwater Creek crossing and Deadman's Gully, and upgrading four floodways between Maryborough and Torbanlea.
"This is a known problem section of the Bruce Highway with poor flood immunity, and after significant rain, experiences closures that affect passenger and freight movements in central and northern parts of the state," Mr McCormack said.
"The Australian Government has worked with the Queensland Government to identify priority areas, such as this one, where we can reduce the economic and social impacts of flooding."
Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey said once complete, the upgrade will cut delays caused by road closures and also improve motorist safety.
"What we've seen is regular flood closures on this stretch of highway often resulting in delays anywhere between 3.6 to 19.3 hours a year, which is why we're taking action," Mr Bailey said.
"We're committed to delivering important projects like this to keep Queenslanders and our industries connected and minimise the impact of flooding."
Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien recalled a major road closure that occurred in 2013 when this section of the Bruce Highway was closed for nearly 31 hours due to flooding at Saltwater Creek Bridge.
"The Bruce Highway is a lifeline during natural disasters, and during the devastating 2013 floods, its closure created extra strain on essential services as well as delaying the recovery period, " Mr O'Brien said.
"These upgrades will help to keep communities connected and the wheels of our economy turning even in times of flood and natural disaster, as well as improving general safety."
Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said the upgrade will help traffic and freight keep moving during wet weather, which would benefit the local economy and particularly the horticulture industry.
"I thank motorists for their patience during construction, and look forward to the project being completed," Mr Pitt said.
"Improving flood immunity is a key objective of the Australian and Queensland government's $12.6 billion Bruce Highway Upgrade Program and projects like this strengthen our road network's resilience."
State Member for Maryborough Bruce Saunders said the upgrade will be welcomed not only by motorists but also the business community, with hundreds of jobs expected to be created.
"While more than 280 direct jobs will be supported over the life of the project, there will also be flow on benefits for local businesses which will boost the region's economy," Mr Saunders said.
"It's great to see that improving safety is also a priority of this upgrade, with the design to include wider road shoulders and a painted centre median to better separate traffic, so that local and through traffic can arrive safely at their destinations."
The design is expected to be completed by next year.
The Australian Government has committed up to $82.4 million towards the project and the Queensland Government has committed up to $20.6 million.