Eighteen months after Tropical Cyclone Debbie tore out a vital range stretch of the Marlborough-Sarina Road, one lane of the highway has been reopened to traffic.
From Monday, the Sarina Range section of the road has been opened under traffic control to single lane traffic.
The news was described by the Member for Mackay, Julieanne Gilbert as a reprieve for residents, who had suffered significant disruption to their lives.
“Re-opening the road will give people hours in their week back that have otherwise would have been spent travelling on alternative routes to get to school, work or visit family and friends.”
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One of the first vehicles to cross, last Friday, was the local school bus.
According to Education Minister, Grace Grace, they wanted to ensure the road, which is still under construction, could safely accommodate a school bus and get students to school on their first day back of term four.
“We know this damage and extended closure has been tough on the local community, which is why the crossing of the school bus last week was a momentous occasion,” she said.
Transport and Main Roads Minister, Mark Bailey said it was important to remember while the range was open to traffic, reconstruction work would continue until December, weather permitting.
"I would like to remind motorists that safety is always our number one priority and there are changed traffic conditions along the Sarina Range section of Marlborough-Sarina Road," Mr Bailey said.
“The road has been re-opened under single-lane operation and will be accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
‘‘However, for the safety of the public, traffic control and speed restrictions are in place.
‘‘An escort vehicle will also lead traffic queues up and down the Sarina Range crossing.
“Delays of up to 15 minutes are likely to occur along the route.’’
Mr Bailey said while the road remained a construction site, restrictions of 15 tonnes and 2.5 metres wide applied to heavy vehicles.
‘‘We will monitor this condition throughout the remainder of the restoration project,’’ Mr Bailey said.
‘‘Exemptions are already in place for the school bus and construction traffic.’’
Marlborough-Sarina Road, along the Sarina Range, was closed because of significant geotechnical failure following substantial rainfall from Tropical Cyclone Debbie in March last year.