Multi-million dollar upgrade to Peak Downs

The notorious Peak Downs Highway is set to get an upgrade this year, after additional funding from the state and federal governments. PHOTO: Supplied

Safety concerns for regular travelers of the Peak Downs Highway are being addressed with the commencement of upgrades north of Clermont earlier this year.
The project will upgrade the Wolfang Road intersection, as well as three sections of highway between the Tea Creek bridge and Myall Creek crossing.
The Queensland Government has partnered with the Australian Government on their Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity and Road Safety programs to provide $11.5 million dollars’ worth of upgrades to the highway.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the program improves safety and productivity for heavy vehicle operators.
“The highway is being strengthened and widened, making it safer for over-sized and over-mass vehicles, as well as regular road users,” he said.
“Just over three kilometers of road will be widened to nine meters, with one meter shoulders, to increase separation between heavy vehicles, caravans and light vehicles.
“Widening three sections will enable safer overtaking opportunities, so drivers don’t take unnecessary risks.”
Moranbah local Renã Turner said she had experienced a close encounter on the highway.
“It’s terrible. I nearly had a head on with a truck because we both had nowhere to go and a bridge to cross,” Mrs Turner said.
“I was a quick thinker and pulled right off and let him have the entire road.
“The roads are way too skinny.”
’-type: imageimage:- ’/assets/f19-clermont-peak-downs-roadworks-2.jpgClermont resident Les Bones said being a regular traveller on the highway safety was a major concern.
“As an elderly person, I have had the need to take my wife to Mackay for health reasons,” Mr Bones said.
“While travelling over last Sunday, 60km from Clermont heading to Mackay, we had a pilot car with its lights flashing, followed by a police car… with a wide load to follow.
“There was nowhere to go… grass right up to the road on a very thin strip of highway… in a small car.”
A local man, who wishes to remain anonymous said in the 10 years he had been travelling the road, he had seen little improvement in its condition.
“I have had many close calls with road trains… almost got side swiped only two weeks ago,” he said.
“I feel for the truckies. It’s not a matter of if but when someone is going to get killed on that road.
“And if it’s from a truck then some poor truckie is going to have to live with that through no fault of his own.”
Assistant Minister for Northern Australia and Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said the upgrades would make the road safer.
“Discouraging drivers from taking unnecessary risks by providing adequate overtaking facilities is a key part of saving lives on the Peak Downs Highway,” she said.
“This is another example of the Australian Government working toward Vision Zero on our roads by investing in safety improvements – zero deaths and zero serious injuries is our ultimate goal.”
Mr McCormack said that the upgrades would enable safer overtaking opportunities, in addition to reducing driver fatigue.
“We’re also tackling fatigue for heavy vehicle drivers by upgrading two informal stopping bays.”
Queensland Assistant Minister for Regional Roads Bruce Saunders said upgrading rural and remote highways is vital in improving the safety for industries and communities that frequent them.
“The areas serviced by the Peak Downs Highway are major contributors to our state’s economy,” Mr Saunders said.
“Work on a $35 million upgrade of a 14km section of the Peak Downs Highway between Wuthung Road and Caval Ridge is due to wrap up in a few months.
“The project has supported over 100 jobs over the past year, so it’s good to see more working getting started on other sections of the highway now and supporting even more jobs.”
Clermont resident Rodney Clark said that the highway affects his ability to transport cattle throughout the region.
“I take a truckload of cattle through to Emerald from Mackay a few times a year and I’ve stopped going that way because of the Moranbah to Clermont stretch,” Mr Clark said.
“It’s a shocker.”
Clermont local Revee McCormack said he was not sure the upgrades would be enough, and they might have commenced too late.
He said people had lost their lives on the highway and those deaths might have been avoidable if not for the condition of the road.
“There’s not a lot of room for prime movers or other trucks to go,” he said.
“If you’re not on the ball you’re right in for a world of trouble.
“I’ve travelled a fair bit of country all around Australia.
“Without a doubt it is the worst bit of road I’ve ever seen.”
The work is being carried out by RoadTek, with an estimated completion date of late this year.