Ipswich's road to the future opens
IF the past few weeks of hassle-free motoring are anything to go by, it could be a few years and a whopping surge in population before the Ipswich Motorway is referred to as a car park again.
To say those who have used the motorway over the past few years have showed great patience would be an understatement almost as grand as the task of improving the once hopelessly overcrowded road.
During three-and-a-half years of construction of the Dinmore to Goodna stretch, more than 1000 workers put in eight million man hours, moving 1.67 million cubic metres of dirt, laying 500,000 tonnes of asphalt and planting a million trees and shrubs.
Their aim was to create not only a more efficient Ipswich Motorway, but a network of roads, entry and exit ramps, service roads and bridges that better dealt with the massive increase in traffic that has struggled to flow freely between Ipswich and Brisbane.
For those who prefer not to drive, the project also included five pedestrian and cyclist bridges over the motorway and a total of 24km of shared cyclist and pedestrian pathways.
Although most of the work was done after hours, the delays and inconveniences plagued commuters right up until the project was almost complete.
Federal Member for Blair Shayne Neumann said he believed the final result was worth the wait.
"No longer will people have to get around with those 'I park on the Ipswich Motorway' bumper stickers," Mr Neumann said.
"We now have a motorway with the capacity to take 180,000 vehicles a day and the capacity to be extended to four lanes each way. We also have the new service roads on either side that are capable of taking thousands of vehicles on their own."
Mr Neumann accompanied Federal Transport and Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese, State Transport Minister Scott Emerson, Member for Oxley Bernie Ripoll and Member for Ipswich Ian Berry at the official commissioning ceremony yesterday.
Although content to let his Federal counterparts take the glory, Mr Berry believed the finished project would benefit the region for years to come.
"Ipswich is growing exponentially and Queensland is the growth state - there's no doubt about it," he said.
Although the Federal Government earmarked $1.95 billion for the upgrades - after the original estimate of $1.1billion blew out - Mr Neumann said the final cost was $1.76 billion
He said the remaining $190 million would go towards fixing the Bruce Hwy.
The speed limit on the Dinmore to Goodna stretch of the motorway will increase to 100kmh in the next few weeks.
What we've got
The Ipswich Motorway now has the capacity to handle 180,000 cars per day - it currently has about 95,000 per day.
New northern and southern service roads from Dinmore to Redbank have the potential to keep thousands of extra vehicles off the highway.
Short trips from Redbank to Goodna are taken care of via the Smiths Rd extension, which also reduces motorway traffic.
A new foot bridge from Dinmore train station keeps pedestrians off the busy Aberdare St intersection.