An aerial view of Wondai’s industrial estate, which was built before B-double trucks came into widespread use and now requires more costly upgrades so the trucks can easily and safely access the site (Photo: Parkside)
Cr Kirstie Schumacher (Photo: SBRC)

August 2, 2022

South Burnett Regional Council will invest $40,000 into designing Stage 2 of Wondai’s industrial estate to further improve access for B-double trucks.

The decision comes barely seven months after the Council spent almost $1 million upgrading the estate’s roads to ensure B-doubles could continue to access them.

But this time around, businesses who stand to benefit most from the next upgrade may be invited to contribute towards the project’s estimated six-figure cost.

The industrial estate was built by the former Wondai Shire Council in 1984 to attract new businesses to the town.

It proved a success, and now hosts a wide range of companies that have become the town’s major employers.

However, in recent years the estate’s design has turned it into a financial black hole for the Council.

Problems with the site first erupted last May when DTMR inspectors began warning truck drivers they risked being fined if they took B-doubles into the estate.

This was because the roads were too narrow to safely accommodate them, according to current DTMR rules.

Councillors convened an urgent meeting with DTMR soon afterwards, and reached a compromise in June that saw traffic flows in most of the Estate converted to clockwise one-way.

The Council also widened several corners to accommodate the bigger turning circles of B-doubles.

This work was completed late last year.

Since then, however, several of the estate’s businesses have met with Council to advise the new traffic configuration is causing them operational difficulties.

At the SBRC’s July meeting, Councillors heard it would be possible to remedy most of these problems by widening two of the estate’s streets, but this work could cost as much as $600,000.

Councillors were told the money for this project was not in the current capital works budget but voted to allocate $40,000 so officers could prepare designs and costings.

These could then be used to either seek grant funding, or kept as a guide to the amount of ratepayers’ funds that would need to be set aside for the work.

The motion to allocate $40,000 to the project was moved by Cr Kathy Duff and seconded by Cr Kirstie Schumacher.

“I am really pleased that Council has supported the funding of the design of Stage 2 of the industrial estate,” Cr Duff said.

“The feedback from the businesses in the estate is that they need both Burrows and Kemp streets to be two-way for the general efficiency of their operations.

“I am keen to see the costings so that we can budget for the upgrade as the Wondai industrial estate is a vital economic driver for our region.”

Cr Schumacher said she was seconding the motion because she recognised the important role the Estate played in Wondai’s economy.

But she believed Council should approach some of the operators who stood to benefit most from the upgrade for a co-contribution towards the project’s costs.

Cr Schumacher said she knew of at least one business in Kingaroy which contributed substantial funds towards infrastructure upgrades that increased the productivity of their business, and she was aware of several others who had done the same.

She thought it was only fair that Wondai businesses were treated the same way.

The motion to fund the Stage 2 design and costings was carried unanimously, and the results will be presented at a future meeting.

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