The Government of Queensland in Australia has announced that upgrade work worth A$481m ($331.07m) has commenced on a section of the Bruce Highway.

Stage III of the Cairns Southern Access Corridor project will increase the capacity of a two-lane road between Edmonton and Gordonvale. It is expected to support 466 jobs.

New highway alignment and an overpass south of Maitland Road will be delivered under the project. The work also includes the removal of several at-grade level crossings and aims to mitigate congestion on the freight route.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said: “The southern suburbs of Cairns are growing fast and that is why the Australian Government has committed more than A$840m towards upgrading the Cairns Southern Access Corridor from Gordonvale to Cairns CBD.

“Not only will this project duplicate the highway, it will also deliver new service roads and partially close several intersections and direct accesses to the existing highway.

“This will improve traffic flow, increase the speed limit to 100km per hour and create a safer and more efficient Bruce Highway for the future.”

The project is jointly funded by the federal and state governments. The Australian Government will contribute A$381.81m while the Queensland Government has committed the remaining A$92.19m.

The upgrade is expected to be completed by the middle of 2023.

Notably, the 1,677km-long Bruce Highway serves as a major transport corridor supporting freight and commuter movements from Brisbane to Cairns.

The Bruce Highway Upgrade programme was initially established as an A$8.5bn ($5.85bn) ten-year commitment in 2013.

Last month, Queensland Government unveiled a A$2.1bn ($1.35bn) plan to reduce road congestion in Brisbane.