Whelan Street in Hivesville is an unformed, 10m-wide laneway used by three residences for property access … it used to be maintained by Wondai Shire Council but has not been maintained since council amalgamation in 2008 (Photo: SBRC)
SBRC Cr Kathy Duff

November 3, 2021

An error on a Google map is putting a Hivesville woman’s life at risk, the South Burnett Regional Council was told on Wednesday.

Google Maps shows the same street in two locations with two lengths, and neither of them is correct.

This error is causing confusion for ambulance officers and emergency services workers who use Google Maps as part of their toolset.

The problem was discussed at Wednesday’s Infrastructure Standing Committee meeting.

SBRC Councillors were considering a recommendation from officers to upgrade Whelan Street in Hivesville from an unformed road to an unsealed gravel road as part of next year’s capital works program at an estimated cost of $40,000, and also to add the road to Council’s regular road maintenance program.

Officers said the road had never been maintained by the SBRC since the Council was formed in 2008.

They also noted that because Whelan Street is a narrow, 10m-wide laneway with a right-angled bend near the middle, normal road maintenance graders and water trucks would have difficulty servicing it.

So they suggested that if Councillors agreed to the proposal, staff use a backhoe or bobcat to carry out spot maintenance and repairs, noting this would result in a lower standard of maintenance than patrol grading.

Cr Kathy Duff urged her fellow Councillors to agree to the motion and get the upgrade done as soon as possible.

She told the meeting a woman in the street had potentially life-threatening health problems.

However ambulance officers had already experienced difficulties locating her property. The narrow laneway that led to it – which turned into a mud pit after heavy rain – was not helping either.

Cr Duff said she had contacted an authoritative source who had confirmed the former Wondai Shire Council used to maintain Whelan Road prior to the 2008 council amalgamation.

She said while there were only three properties currently using the 200 metre road for access, securing that access was critical for one resident.

Cr Danita Potter asked if Whelan Road was signposted and officers confirmed it was.

Cr Kirstie Schumacher said she was aware of similar roads in other towns and this indicated to her the problem was much larger than Whelan Street.

This meant that if it was going to be solved, Council needed hard data to work out the best way to address the problem.

She said for this reason she could not support Cr Duff’s motion, and suggested an alternative motion that officers bring a report back to the May 2022 meeting detailing all the unformed roads in the region where residents had made inquiries to Council about road maintenance so further planning could be undertaken to consider these issues.

When put to a vote, Cr Duff’s motion to immediately upgrade Whelan Street was defeated 5 to 2, with only Cr Duff and Mayor Otto in favour.

Cr Schumacher’s motion to re-examine the issue on a region-wide basis was then carried unanimously.

Council officers say a sharp turn roughly half-way along the 200m laneway would make it difficult for graders and water trucks to maintain the road (Photo: SBRC)
A resident who lives in Whelan Street suffers from health issues which makes reliable access to ambulance services a high priority … but errors on Google maps and difficulties caused by rain put her life at risk (Photo: SBRC)
Which one is Whelan Street? Google Maps report two Whelan Streets in Hivesville – one short, and one connecting the Wondai-Proston Road to Ten Chain Road – but neither of them are correct (Map: Google)
Google’s satellite view is even more confusing, with one of the phantom Whelan streets passing through the side of a house … the real Whelan Street is marked by the dashed line (Map: Google)

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3 Responses to "Map Error Unearths Bigger Issues"

  1. Anna Duncombe  November 4, 2021

    Google maps and most maps used in travel direction devices in the Australian countryside will lead you on a merry dance. My device recently directed me to take a two and half hour journey and still didn’t get me to my destination for a trip that took me direct 50 minutes. Please don’t rely on them.

    Reply
  2. Bouncer  November 10, 2021

    For those who may not know, Google Maps has an map editing feature. You must be signed in to a Google Account. On a PC, clicking on the three horizontal lines (Menu) to the left of the search bar brings up a list of options, one of which is “Edit the Maps”. There you may complete a report and submit it. I came across a road that was misspelled in such a way that it could be mistaken for another local road. I reported the issue and received an email from Google within a few days advising that they had reviewed the report, concluded that I was correct, and had made the appropriate correction.

    Reply
  3. Edy Dayne  November 22, 2021

    Just another disgrace from this weak and pitiful council. Can’t even fix a road for a sick woman. All who opposed this decision should hang their head in shame and then again resign their positions.

    Reply

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