Highway closure chaos What we say . . .
THE North Queensland road network is in chaos as floodwaters shut down the Bruce Highway and major alternative inland road systems.
The only fully functioning highways in North Queensland this week were the Flind e r s H i g h w a y b e t w e e n Townsville and Cloncurry and the Barkly Highway between Cloncurry and Camooweal.
The Bruce Highway was cut at multiple locations to the north and south of Ingham and at Tully and Cardwell.
Further to the south there were problems with the highway in the Marlborough, Mackay a n d P r o s e r p i n e areas.
The flood-ravaged road syst e m has s t o p p e d t r ucks transporting vital building s u p p l i e s t o c y c l o n e - devastated districts between Townsville and Innisfail in their tracks.
Food supplies t h r o u g h o u t t h e areas were also supply.
Cardwell-based national r o a d t r a n s p o r t e r B o b McMillan said it wasn’t just the regional economy that took a hit when roads were cut in North Queensland, but economies in other states as well.
‘ ‘ S o u t h A u s t r a l i a i s screaming out for trucks, but most of them are stopped up here,’’ he said.
Truck driver Ian Swann said flooded roads in North Queensland had cost him $ 40,000 in lost wages since 2009.
‘‘ I don’t get paid when I’m not driving the truck. I’ve calculated that it’s cost me $ 40,000 in down time,’’ he said.
RACQ Traffic and Safety executive manager John Wikman said the frequent f l ooding of s ub-s t andard roads in North Queensland was a clear sign that the Federal Government had to start doing more work on the highway.
RACQ figures show that the Bruce Highway has been closed 450 times since 2009 to towns a f f e c t e d in short GIVEN a choice between spending $ 120 million on an upgrade of the Cardwell Range section of the Bruce Highway and flood-proofing creeks and rivers to the north and south of Ingham, most regular users of the Bruce Highway between Townsville and Cairns would opt for the latter.
The creeks to the north and south of Ingham are the Bruce Highway’s Missing Link. They are costing the region money. They are costing the state and nation money. And they are causing enormous frustration, disruption and heartache to people who use the highway and who rely on it for the transport of goods. The creeks are a mess and they should be fixed.
It was a knee-jerk decision at the time – based on the emotional impact of at least two lives lost and a spate of accidents on the Cardwell Range – that led Main Roads Minister Paul Lucas in 2007 to green-light the $ 120 million Cardwell Range Realignment.
In the meantime, the Howard government had already ticked off upgrade works along the notorious Murray River flats between Cardwell and Tully.
What a godsend it would have been if Mr Lucas had focused on flood-proofing those other notoriously bad sections of road to the north and south of Ingham instead of starting on the range upgrade.
The Ingham waterways of Cattle and Frances creeks to the south and the Seymour River, Gairloch Washaway and Arnot Creek to the north now flood, year in, year out. It’s now way