Horrors of our highway to be taken to the top
CARNAGE on the Bruce Hwy south of Gympie will only get worse if Section C of the Cooroy to Curra bypass is finished without Section D.
Gympie Regional Council heard yesterday that Section D - the bypass around Gympie to Curra - appeared to have been put on the back burner, and Section C - from Traveston Rd to Keefton Rd - needed to be fast-tracked.
There have been three fatalities on the highway near Gympie in the past month.
Galvanised by councillor and ambulance chief Wayne Sachs, a council delegation will try to convince Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss to accelerate completion of the bypass.
"I propose we escalate the development of Section C and D and that they be constructed at the same time because, quite frankly, I don't believe we can wait 20 years to get the whole thing done," Cr Sachs said.
"I believe as a community we can't waste any time. We have to be pushing this hard to get it done."
State and federal governments have designed and allocated money to build the 11km Section C, but it will finish just south of Gympie, near the deadly stretch of highway that fronts the Gold Nugget service station, the site of Gympie's most recent fatality.
Section D will be 26km of highway in a corridor running east of Gympie, close to the railway line until Old Maryborough Rd, then travelling through the edge of Curra State Forest.
Cr Ian Petersen said fast-tracking Sections C and D would be hugely expensive and would likely meet with some resistance, so the council needed a "fallback position".
The important thing was to at least get the bypass "past" Gympie, he said.
"South of Gympie is going to be a real horror stretch if only Section C is done," Cr Petersen said.
Acting Mayor Tony Perrett said it was critical to get at least the design for Section D completed so it was "shovel ready" should any money become available.
Director of Engineering Bob Fredman said there could be some "wriggle room" on the design of Section D which might make it possible to bring it forward.
Section D is planned to be six lanes, but "I think you could argue that, in the short to medium term, two lanes would suffice," Mr Fredman said.
This would reduce the cost and the road toll, he said.
At a later date that section could then be expanded to four and six lanes, which was what was done on the Bruce Hwy at Nambour and Cooroy.
Mr Fredman warned that the Wide Bay Hwy intersection with the Bruce at Bells Bridge was also only going to get more dangerous with time, and needed to be addressed.
Councillor and police officer Mick Curran endorsed Cr Sach's request for a delegation to Mr Truss, but said the community also needed to acknowledge that bad roads were not the only cause of accidents - driver behaviour was also a significant cause.
Improving driver behaviour was an important way to address the road toll, Cr Curran said. "We have possibly got the best facility in the state (for addressing driver behaviour) on our doorstep - Roadcraft," he told the council.
He called on the Gympie region's community leaders to complete a defensive driving course at Roadcraft and lead the way in promoting better driving.
"I will happily undertake the course at my own expense," he said.