Crews worked through the night to rip up and widen sections of Upper Dawson Rd to allow B-doubles to be diverted from Gladstone Rd.
Crews worked through the night to rip up and widen sections of Upper Dawson Rd to allow B-doubles to be diverted from Gladstone Rd. Michelle Gately

Revised Rocky flood route to keep more businesses trading

WITH a new cyclone season underway, Rockhampton Region councillor Tony Williams has been itching to reveal updated traffic diversion plans in the case of another major flood.

Consultants engaged by the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) have been revising the diversion which sees Bruce Hwy traffic continue to flow in major floods despite the closure of low-lying parts of Gladstone Rd.

Although the route will remain relatively the same as that rolled out in April 2017 after Cyclone Debbie, Cr Williams said the traffic management plan had been tweaked at particular intersections to alleviate congestion and avoid bottlenecks.

Cr Williams criticised the previous plan because it had originally not included B-double trucks, a key part of Bruce Hwy traffic.

 

A truck passing through Rockhampton ahead of a flood peak last year following Cyclone Debbie.
A truck passing through Rockhampton ahead of a flood peak last year following Cyclone Debbie. Michelle Gately

In May, he said it was a "last minute" call to allow the trucks through the city, via Upper Dawson Rd and Derby St and one which required council crews to work into the night to cut away sections of kerbing and allow bigger turning circles.

The plans haven't been made public by TMR yet, but Cr Williams, Chair of the Local Disaster Management Group, yesterday said he was confident were a disaster to hit now the disruption would be dealt with better.

In December, the Federal Government announced it would install $8 million in variable message signs, portable traffic signs, guardrails and CCTV cameras to monitor road conditions and update signs in real time during future floods.

Cr Williams said one of the biggest changes was police management of traffic to dry areas of Gladstone Rd, which would allow unaffected businesses to trade as normal.

Similar changes have been made to plans in North Rockhampton, where Lakes Creek Rd remained dry but was closed to allow pumps and other material associated with the temporary levee in Rodboro St.

Now, traffic will be managed along that road to keep businesses open.

Cr Williams said the Queensland Police Service and the Department of Education had approved the route changes.

 

Traffic backed up along Derby St after Gladstone Rd was closed due to flooding. Tens of thousands of vehicles are diverted onto Upper Dawson Rd.
Traffic backed up along Derby St after Gladstone Rd was closed due to flooding. Tens of thousands of vehicles are diverted onto Upper Dawson Rd. Michelle Gately

Increased school traffic wasn't an issue in the 2017 flood, which happened during the Easter holidays.

But Cr Williams said were a flood to occur during term, school traffic would be looped around Allenstown State School and St Peter's School to get cars away from the main flow of vehicles.

However, he said any diversion from the highway would come with unavoidable delays.

Gladstone Rd caters for roughly 30,000 vehicle movements daily, but Upper Dawson Rd is designed to deal with a third of that.

 

Cr Tony Williams with flood mitigation in North Rockhampton.
Cr Tony Williams with flood mitigation in North Rockhampton. Allan Reinikka ROK030417awilliam

"We're still applying to fix some of the damage that was done previously," Cr Williams said.

"We'd be pushing to have (Upper Dawson Rd) improved to be able to cater for that (number of vehicles) in case of flood."

He said it would be more cost effective to prevent damage from heavy traffic, rather than continually repairing damage after diversions.

The decision to allow heavy trucks on the Upper Dawson Rd diversion last year meant sections of kerbing had to be cut away and, almost a year later, these still have not been replaced.

Cr Williams said council and TMR had held off repairing the kerbs until they had finalised this plan and could put a long-term solution in place.

Designs are in the final stages and work should begin on the Allenstown Square intersection in coming months.



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