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Too Little, Too Late … And At What Cost?

Filed under Editorial

Main Roads Minister
Mark Bailey

July 17, 2018

by Anne Miller

On Tuesday, the State Government announced funding to improve the Maidenwell-Bunya Mountains Road, but local residents shouldn’t get too excited … it’s just the same money foreshadowed in the State Budget last month.

Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey announced two amounts of $58,000 and $65,000 would be spent on signage along the road, including signs “to better delineate the alignment”.

We assume these will be those bright arrows that have been popping up along roads throughout the area in recent years, including many spots where there hasn’t been a crash in living memory.

But there is no funding announcement for road realignment, widening, sealing or gravel re-sheeting this major road to one of the South Burnett’s most visited tourism destinations.

Under the “Queensland Transport and Roads Investment Program 2018–19 to 2021–22” (see links below) these two amounts are listed as “treat hazards close to roads”.

This sounds like removing trees to me.

So, to fix the road leading to one of the region’s most popular tourist destinations, the State Government plans to cut down a few trees, and put up a few signs.

The real money to improve the tourist road is listed for later years in the Budget papers:

  • $249,000 in 2019-20 for “minor realignment of traffic lane/s:
  • $207,000 in 2020-21 to 2021-22  to “reshape and seal”

At Budget time, Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington said: “In regards to road funding, we are finally seeing a recognition that funding needs to be spent on the Maidenwell-Bunya Mountains Road, but it is not until 2020-21. This is just too long to wait.”

Too right. And is it enough?

Considering the cost of road repairs – we’re all lectured about this so often, these days – is this enough really to re-align and seal the Maidenwell-Bunya Mountains Road?

Not very likely, I’d say.

Other funds  re-announced by Mr Bailey include:

  • $94,000 to install vehicle-activated signs, chevron alignment markers and truck tipping signs on the Burnett Highway, about 4km north of Goomeri
  • $35,000 to apply “audio tactile line marking” on a section of the Wide Bay Highway, just west of the Batts Road intersection (east of Kilkivan)
  •  $183,000 to undertake curve widening works, install improved signs and apply “audio tactile linemarking” on a section of the Bunya Highway near the Webbs Road intersection (north of Memerambi)

Just think about this for a moment …

A stretch of the Burnett Highway which is so notorious for semi-trailers overturning that police simply used to say to me on the phone “at the same place” is going to get a few warning signs.

How many hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost machinery, police and ambulance time and human suffering has been wasted on this piece of bitumen north of Goomeri in the past 10 years?

Now Memerambi  …

A fatal crash occurred near the Webbs Road intersection in 2014, in which a 24-year-old local resident died.

I can remember at least two other serious, but non-fatal crashes in the vicinity of Webbs Road in recent years.

Will better signs, better linemarking and some minor curve widening fix this dangerous bend … $183,000 won’t go far.

The Wide Bay Highway east of Kilkivan is also a well-known known black spot zone for crashes.

Will better line marking – even if it costs an astounding $35,000 – really make it safer?

I seem to be writing a lot about roads recently.

The D’Aguilar Highway recently made the list of the 10 worst roads in Queensland … again.

And stretches of highway linking major towns have been rated as high risk under the Australian Road Assessment Program (AusRAP) ratings system, including Kumbia to Kingaroy; Nanango to Kingaroy; Yarraman to Nanango; and Wondai to Goomeri.

So I’m sorry, Mr Bailey.

Although I’m grateful for the money you have just re-announced, I don’t think it’s the “fantastic news” that you claim in your media release or that these upgrades will ensure “we have the safest possible road network available to motorists”.

We need a lot more spent on our State and National roads.

And while you’re at it … our Councils need support to fix their roads, too.

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