Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey. Official opening of Toowoomba Bypass. September 2019
Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey. Official opening of Toowoomba Bypass. September 2019

“Bandaid” fix not good enough for state highway

A BANDAID fix to the most unsafe road in the Somerset Region has left councillors outraged after months of lobbying for a safety review.

Almost three months after council first resolved to push for the review, Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Mark Bailey has agreed to review two small sections of the Brisbane Valley Highway.

His focal points - Lawlers Bridge at Harlin, and at the Wanora Road and Drapers Road intersection.

“I have requested the Department of Transport and Main Roads to investigate this matter. These investigations are underway, and I will write to you again once further information is available,” the Minister wrote in a letter to the Somerset Regional Council.

The response did not impress councillors, who had requested an investigation into the entirety of State Highway 17.

“The Minister’s interpretation of council’s request has been for a narrow review of safety matters on the highway,” council’s Director of Finance Geoffrey Smith said.

“That was never our intention.”

He referred to reports compiled by GHD and RACQ, which had been forwarded to the Minister, confirming numerous safety issues on the highway.

“The reports indicate the whole road needs fixing,” Mr Smith said.

Council unanimously agreed to write to the Minister again, to clarify their desire of a safety review of the entire highway.

Even with State Government support, upgrading the SH17 will be a costly feat.

“RACQ’s statement is that it would take $30 million to take it from a two-star rating to a three-star rating,” Mr Smith said.

The RACQ’s “bandaid” solution would involve the installation of barriers and other safety measures, which will make the road safer, but didn’t address the issues of the insufficient width and subpar surface of the highway.

Fully addressing all of the highway’s issues would cost significantly more.

The barriers would also cause safety issues of their own for some road users.

“All of these barriers will leave less room for cyclists, so it’s really a bandaid,” Councillor Robert Whalley said.

“It’s my understanding we’re about $20 million behind on road maintenance, so the State has a lot to answer for. I urge our officers to pursue a full upgrade of the highway.”

Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann said it was important for council to continue pressing the issue.

“All we can do is keep hammering at it,” he said.

“It’s not like we haven’t been making our case.”


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