The much-anticipated Toowoomba Bypass, previously known as the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing, opened last month (8 September).
The 41km-long road bypasses north of Toowoomba, Australia’s largest inland regional city, connecting the Warrego Highway at Helidon Spa in the east to the Gore Highway at Athol in the west, via Charlton.
The $1.6 billion project increases freight efficiency and significantly improves driver safety and community amenity.
It avoids 18 sets of traffic lights and removes heavy vehicles from Toowoomba’s central business district.
The Toowoomba Bypass started construction in April 2016 and was jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland governments.
It is the Australian Government’s largest funding commitment ($1.137 billion) to a single road project in Queensland history.
A complex project, the Toowoomba Bypass included many impressive engineering design features with more than 10 million cubic metres of earth moved in a cut to fill process and 30 major bridge structures at 24 locations.
Its construction needed several local roads to be re-aligned, and ongoing traffic control on significant regional highways and many local roads across Toowoomba and Lockyer Valley.
“This has been both a challenging and rewarding project for our team and the Nexus consortium which designed and built the project,” Transport and Main Roads project director Bruce Ollason said.
“A decade in planning, and many years in design, it has taken the skills and experience of a large team to pull together what is a world class project.
“As well as the project’s technical success, its achievement in managing community engagement, building local participation and impact on the local economy throughout has been incredible.”
The three stand-out project structures are the viaduct built in Ballard and the dual arch bridges on the re-aligned New England Highway at Mount Kynoch. The New England Highway is a major existing north south highway which crosses over the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing.
Together these structures form the connection between the Lockyer Valley and Toowoomba Regions and are critical to traversing the steep terrain of the Great Dividing Range.
The 800m-long viaduct's tallest pier is an imposing 51m from the base of the valley and required one span to be built over the existing Queensland Rail line.
It comprises of 242 Super T girders, which averaged between 30 and 38m long. The girders were delivered to site under escort from the pre-cast manufactures in Wacol, just west of Brisbane and needed to negotiate the existing range crossing.
The western section of the Toowoomba Bypass (Mort Street, Cranley to Gore Highway, Athol) was opened to traffic in early December 2018, giving tolling-free benefits to local motorists.
The full 41km alignment of the Toowoomba then opened 8 September 2019, following a weekend of community events where more than 10,000 joined in the celebrations.
The Toowoomba Bypass is a toll road which is mandated for use by heavy vehicles traversing the range unless the vehicle’s journey;
· has a local destination (or starting point) in Toowoomba/ Withcott; or
· is travelling to, or from, Toowoomba using the New England Highway.