Australia’s Queensland Government announced that the construction works for the A$1bn ($731m) Gympie Bypass road project has been initiated with the first sod turning at the Woondum interchange.

A Bielby BMD joint venture was awarded the contract, which will be responsible for a road upgrade from Woondum through to Veteran as part of the Bruce Highway – Cooroy to Curra Section D project.

Australia Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said: “This first contract will deliver 12km of dual-lane, divided highway between the Woondum interchange and Sandy Creek Road in Veteran.

“It also includes two new interchanges at Penny Road and Gympie Connection Road, along with 23 new bridges over local waterways, roads and the North Coast Rail Line. The project will reduce the number and severity of crashes and will meet current design standards to provide a safer road environment.

“To ensure seamless connectivity with existing roads, there will also be about 5.5 kilometres of local road realignments and upgrades to existing intersections. We are investing in our post-pandemic future by delivering lasting infrastructure which will kick-start our economic recovery and benefit Australians for years to come.”

The Australian Government with A$800m ($585m) and the Queensland Government with A$200m ($146m) are jointly funding the Cooroy to Curra – Section D project.

McCormack explained the meticulous planning required to prepare for this vital infrastructure upgrade.

Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said that the project will improve freight efficiency and connectivity through the Wide Bay.

Bailey said: “The Gympie Bypass will be an economic lifeblood for the region for the next four years, creating about 576 jobs – and I encourage local businesses and workers to put their hand up and get involved.

“We committed to building this Now more than ever – with global economies bearing the brunt of Covid-19 – Queenslanders need jobs.

“We’ve seen Queenslanders step up to manage the health impacts of the global pandemic, and because of their work the Queensland Government is able to get on with the state’s plan for economic recovery.”

Earlier this month, the Governments of Australia and Queensland awarded the design and build contract to the Georgiou AECOM consortium for the A$230m ($167m) Townsville Ring Road Stage 5 project and Townsville Northern Access Intersections Upgrade project.