The Government of Australia has announced that work on the A$1bn ($640m) Pacific Motorway upgrade from Varsity Lakes to Tugun in Gold Coast has commenced.

The project, jointly funded by the federal and Queensland governments, will boost the capacity of the M1 motorway by delivering at least six lanes from Brisbane to Tugun.

The project was fast-tracked to create jobs as the government seeks to revive the economy from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, the upgrades will help in reducing traffic congestion in the region.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “This isn’t just a project with significant long-term benefits, it’s going to be delivering benefits right now with more jobs to help local workers as Australia moves past the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Concrete safety barriers and VMS boards were installed and car speeds are being regulated on the motorway to enable the construction.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said: “This project will support more than 830 jobs and we’re going to keep delivering jobs and infrastructure for the Gold Coast and the whole of Queensland.

“We’re starting before the current section is complete because we want to see progress and jobs continue.

“Getting started on this project sooner rather than later means when we come out of Covid-19, Queensland’s economy can support as many jobs as possible.”

Notably, the A$218.5m ($140.45m) M1 upgrade between Mudgeeraba and Varsity Lakes with the new Stapley Drive bridge is complete and is scheduled to open next week.

Last month, Queensland signed a new agreement to accelerate the delivery of 22 regional road projects.