High­way clo­sure chaos What we say . . .

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today - re­gional edi­tor John An­der­sen john. an­der­sen@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

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

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