Road upgrade "against advice"

A CORONIAL inquest into the death of a Rockhampton couple, after a three-car crash on the Bruce Highway near Childers, has revealed that the Bundaberg Regional Council has gone against expert advice from the State Government and upgraded Lucketts Road.

Department of Transport and Main Roads corridor management and operations manager Lance Christiansen told the inquest he feared the upgrade would cause more traffic to use the notorious intersection at Lucketts Road and the Bruce Highway, where 29-year-olds Kerri Leigh McPherson and Dale Robert Welburn died on August 27, 2007.

“The upgrade was against Main Roads advice,” Mr Chrisiansen told the inquest.

Coroner Jennifer Batts said the council was told about the inquest and could have had a solicitor present to be part of the proceedings.

But there was no representative of council at yesterday’s inquest.

Councillor Wayne Honor said while council was aware there was a pending court case, there was no requirement for council to be there.

“A report will come from the court proceedings and engineers will be able to assess the information if they feel there is anything to be learnt from that court outcome,” Cr Honor said.

Ms McPherson and Mr Welburn, along with two passengers in the back seat, were travelling in a gold and silver Holden Statesman towards Childers when the car clipped a white Ford Laser attempting to turn right into Lucketts Road about 4.10pm.

The Statesman swung into the other lane of traffic, where a Subaru travelling on the highway towards Maryborough smashed into its side.

Mr Christiansen told the inquest that since the fatal three-car crash the road was upgraded and a dedicated right-hand turning lane from the highway into the road was constructed.

The inquest was told there were 18 crashes at the intersection since 1989 — prior to the fatal in 2007 — and those crashes cost the community more than $143,000 per year in that 18-year period.

Since the “temporary” upgrade, the counsel assisting the coroner, Sergeant Barry Stevens, said there had not been one crash at the intersection and a crash near the intersection was caused by fatigue.

But Mr Christansen said that ultimately the road would have to be changed again, especially if more vehicles start to use the road because of the upgrade.

Sergeant Stevens asked if Mr Christiansen or the Government department was considering taking any action at either end of Lucketts Road.

“We would like to put a left in, left out on both ends of Lucketts Road,” Mr Christiansen replied.

Ms Batts did not nominate a date to hand down her findings and she said if she decided to call council representatives to give evidence, the matter would be relisted.

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