It’s B-dou­ble the trou­ble

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

Redi­rect­ing Table­lands cane to Moss­man is fraught. The ma­jor com­mu­nity con­cern is the be­lief that the road is not suit­able for the in­crease in B-Dou­ble trucks be­tween Mt Mol­loy to the bot­tom of the Rex Range. The sin­gle lane bridge at Ri­fle Creek is a treach­er­ous cross­ing as it is. I and many other of our res­i­dents have fol­lowed B-Dou­ble trucks down the Rex Range and it is ob­vi­ous with the com­bi­na­tion of traf­fic lane widths, the road geom­e­try where there are very sharp bends we have ob­served the B-Dou­ble prime movers need to cross the dou­ble lines (thereby en­croach­ing into the path of the on­com­ing traf­fic) in or­der to al­low the rear traf­fic axle wheels to travel in the cor­rect traf­fic lane. The rel­e­vant govern­ment agen­cies are ad­vis­ing our res­i­dents that ‘‘cor­rectly loaded and op­er­ated B-Dou­bles can ne­go­ti­ate the Rex Range safely’’ is there­fore ob­vi­ous with the limited num­ber of ve­hi­cles us­ing the road this crush­ing sea­son many are not be­ing cor­rectly op­er­ated all the time. The rel­e­vant govern­ment agen­cies do not ap­pear to be ex­press­ing any con­cerns about in­creas­ing the ex­ist­ing traf­fic count from 930 ve­hi­cles per day (this fig­ure in­cludes 107 heavy ve­hi­cles day, a 1.1 per cent growth over the past 10 years). Mackay Sugar pro­pose to in­crease the ex­ist­ing 107 heavy ve­hi­cle count to 347 heavy ve­hi­cle move­ments per day (one B-Dou­ble ev­ery six min­utes) plus the four school bus runs etc. The pro­posal is that the B-Dou­bles op­er­ate next crush­ing sea­son, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 30 weeks. Un­for­tu­nately with an in­crease in heavy ve­hi­cles mixed up with the many car­a­vans and recre­ational ve­hi­cles us­ing the Rex Range at the same time we must ex­pect in­creased road ac­ci­dents. I am in­formed by the lo­cal com­mu­nity there has been at least two truck (50 tonne loaded) rollovers each year with the cur­rent limited B-Dou­ble move­ments. This year has been a record year for recre­ation ve­hi­cles us­ing the Mt Mol­loy Rd. Hav­ing spo­ken to some of th­ese tourists the word is that they will not be trav­el­ling along the Rex Range next year if the ad­di­tional B-Dou­bles are op­er­at­ing; rather than travel the round trip they will ac­cess and leave the coast via the Ku­randa Range, cre­at­ing more traf­fic con­ges­tion, road kills etc for the peo­ple of Ku­randa. I have ad­vised the chair­man of Mackay Sugar of my con­cerns and to his credit he re­sponded quickly ad­vis­ing that the com­pany was form­ing a Com­mu­nity Work­ing Group (CWG) that the mem­bers would be se­lected by Mackay sugar from the ap­pli­ca­tions for po­si­tions avail­able within the Group. Mackay Sugar has ap­pointed an in­de­pen­dent firm that spe­cialises in stake­holder en­gage­ment. The ob­jec­tive of the CWG is to as­sist in plan­ning for the trans­porta­tion of Table­lands cane to Moss­man in a man­ner that re­duces an im­pact on the Mt Mol­loy and Julatten com­mu­ni­ties. There is no ac­cept­able means of re­duc­ing the im­pact to all the af­fected com­mu­ni­ties if the cane is to be hauled to Moss­man. There is to be six bi­monthly meet­ings with the fi­nal meet­ing in Au­gust 2014. Ob­vi­ously if all goes to plan for Mackay Sugar much of the ad­di­tional 700,000 tonnes of sugar from the Table­land will be in the process of be­ing de­liv­ered to Moss­man by Au­gust 2014. By then of course the horse will have al­ready well and truly bolted, and noth­ing will even­tu­ate un­til th­ese ma­jor prob­lems com­pound into a need for govern­ment in­ter­ven­tion. Our com­mu­nity can­not un­der­stand how the cane­grow­ers on the Table­lands can jus­tify by­pass­ing the state-of-the- art Table­lands Sugar Mill at the ex­pense and the in­con­ve­nience of the Mount Mol­loy and Julatten (and pos­si­bly Ku­randa) com­mu­ni­ties. There will be much more dam­age to the roads with the un­nec­es­sary very long haulage of the 700,000 tonnes of cane. The tax­pay­ers’ cost of road re­pairs/ im­prove­ments com­pared with any fi­nan­cial sav­ings by Mackay Sugar should be as­sessed and made pub­lic I un­der­stand the Moss­man Mill re­quir­ing ad­di­tional cane to keep it vi­able and pro­vide em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, but this should not be at the ex­pense of our com­mu­nity. Surely Mackay Sugar had other plans to in­crease the pro­duc­tiv­ity of the Moss­man Mill when they pur­chased it. My re­quest to the chair­man of Mackay Sugar was for a road safety au­dit be car­ried out be­tween Mt Mol­loy and the Rex Range as a mat­ter of ur­gency. I was also ad­vised by his of­fice that the CWG will work through this is­sue if it is re­quested by the group. The CWG ob­jec­tive is that a com­pro­mise needs to be reached? There is no way our com­mu­nity can be com­pro­mised in any man­ner by the on­slaught of a con­voy of B-Dou­bles de­stroy­ing our unique life­style. As I ad­vised the chair­man of the Mackay Sugar, the de­struc­tion of our com­mu­nity life­style is cer­tainly not in ac­cor­dance with their es­poused cor­po­rate val­ues.

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