Ongoing action on CQ problem roads

PHOTO: Supplied

MOMENTUM could be gathering to address problem roads throughout Central Queensland with notorious routes coming under the spotlight and the State and Federal Government investing heavily in roadworks as part of their economic recovery programs.
ISAAC Regional Council (IRC) recently unanimously endorsed a motion to advocate for the improvement of problem roads throughout Isaac.
IRC Mayor Baker said upgrades to the roads were a matter of urgency.
“Roads in the Isaac Region are used by our 33,000 permanent and visiting residents and see a mixture of trucks and other heavy vehicles, four wheel-drives and conventional cars travelling the roads at all times of the day and night,” she said.
“They are vital to the multi-billion-dollar mining industry in our region and of course to our fulltime residents and visiting workers, many of whom drive in and drive out of our region on a very regular basis.”
Councillors unanimously endorsed a Mayoral Minute during a council meeting in February.
A section of the minute read “Council has long advocated to State Government to invest in roads under its control in the Isaac region.
“In light of the recent Goondiwindi Regional Council vs Tait High Court ruling; in light of ongoing observations of the parlous state of certain roads; and in light of [a] poll conducted by RACQ identifying three roads in the Isaac Region in the top 10 most unroadworthy roads in the State, Council must continue to express its concerns for the safety and amenity of its communities and the road users.”
In mid-2020 The Court of Appeal held in Goondiwindi Regional Council v Tait [2020] QCA 119 that Goondiwindi Regional Council was liable for injuries sustained to a woman hurt when she drove over a pothole after heavy rain.
A sign had been erected warning motorists of the danger, but it was blown down in heavy winds.
Council was found to have been negligible in ensuring the sign remained secured to give motorists sufficient warning of the road’s conditions.
Damages exceeding $300,00 were awarded to the plaintiff.
Cr Baker said she acknowledged several of the problem roads identified were partially in the Isaac region.
“Our region approaches the size of Tasmania and council has varying degrees of responsibility for almost 1000km of state-controlled roads,” she said.
“My February Mayoral Minute urges the Queensland Government to intervene and invest in order to address the declining condition of the road network with the Isaac [region] and to provide a safe and efficient road network.”
A survey by RACQ titled RACQ Unroadworthy Roads Survey recently identified a list of 30 roads deemed by respondents to considered poor or inadequate.
Of the top 10 roads identified by respondents three, Bruce Highway, Kilcummin Diamond Downs Road and May Downs Road, had portions of highway that occurred within the Central Queensland region.
Of the top 30, seven roads were identified as partially falling within Central Queensland.
Respondents identified “rough surfaces”, accounting for 74 per cent of responses, as the primary issue with the roads.
Poor shoulder, narrow roads/lanes, lack of overtaking opportunities and tight curves/blind crests constituted the remaining top issues identified.
RACQ Traffic and Safety Engineering Manager Greg Miszkowycz said ongoing efforts had improved the safety of the Bruce Highway.
“It appears that quite a few communities and locals joined together to have their say and highlight roads in their area that are in poor condition or dangerous, knocking the Bruce Highway off its number one spot,” he said.
“As a proportion of total responses received, the Bruce Highway has dropped substantially since the 2011 survey, indicating that Federal and Queensland Government investment in the $9.5 billion, 10-year Bruce Highway Upgrade Program (2013-23) has improved the quality and standard of the road.
Programs upgrading roads throughout Central Queensland are ongoing, such as the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity, Road Safety and Roads of Strategic Importance initiatives.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said works on the Peak Downs Highway were already underway.
The project will upgrade the Wolfang Road intersection, as well as three sections of highway between Tea Creek bridge and Myall Creek crossing.
“Works 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,” Mr McCormack said.
Construction is also set to kick off in the Central Highlands Regional Council region in the coming months with the Australian Government unlocking $3 million to upgrade Willies Creek Royles Road in Bingegang.
Mr McCormack said the project formed part of the Australian Government’s $4.6 billion Roads of Strategic Importance Initiative.
“These works will significantly improve the safety and traffic flow, delivering improved access and road links for the region,” he said.
“Freight operators will considerably benefit from these upgrades as Willies Creek Royles Road is a primary route to major hubs and ports.
“The Australian Government continues to roll out these types of projects across the nation under our record $110 billion infrastructure investment plan, which is critical to Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19.”
Central Highlands Regional Council Mayor Kerry Hayes said the project would have significant benefits for the region “by better linking residents with jobs, services, goods and markets”.
“I am excited to see shovels hit the ground on this vital project, because improving access and road connections is a great outcome for the entire community,” he said.
“All local road users will soon be reaping the benefits of this project, which is expected to be completed by early 2022.”
Federal Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd said works to be completed on the road included widening, associated drainage, road fixtures and signage.
“Regional employment will also get a boost with the project expecting to support approximately 15 jobs,” he said.
Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said cutting travel time and improving road safety were a key priority for such initiatives.
“Willies Creek Royles Road is connected to the Capricorn Highway and is currently unsealed with poor alignment and narrow width,” he said.
“Paving and sealing the road will make the roads safer – benefiting all locals using the route.”
Cr Baker said upgrades were especially crucial for the upcoming winter months given the increase in visitors to the region.
“Many of the roads in our region urgently need to be upgraded for the safety of our people and visitors.”