Walkerston underpass in 'too hard' basket

Walkerston underpass in 'too hard' basket

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An example of the slow cumbersome machinery that will be forced to cross the Walkerston Bypass unless calls for an underpass are heeded.

An example of the slow cumbersome machinery that will be forced to cross the Walkerston Bypass unless calls for an underpass are heeded.

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A December meeting held to hear ongoing traffic safety concerns from Mackay district cane growers for the planned Walkerston Bypass was told that changing plans to incorporate an underpass was "too hard".

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A December meeting held to hear ongoing traffic safety concerns from Mackay district cane growers for the planned Walkerston Bypass was told that changing plans to incorporate an underpass was "too hard".

Canegrowers Mackay has been leading the charge to have the plans altered to save what it describes as "an accident waiting to happen".

CEO Kerry Latter described the government response to their concerns about having to use a staggered T intersection as filibustering, or putting up objections that could be overcome.

He also said it was ridiculous for Transport Minister Mark Bailey to assert that the Department of Main Roads had 'talked with' affected growers about the pros and cons of building an underpass when "everyone knows that the DTMR was reticent to discuss the option in full".

Local grower Tony Camilleri was one of two producers able to attend a meeting with departmental representatives in state MP Julieanne Gilbert's Mackay electorate office last December, and he said they'd been told the idea of an underpass was "too hard".

"I'd like to know why, considering it's not even built yet," he said.

"They would only have to lift the ring road two metres.

"Then they said it would back water up.

"How could that be when you're going to have a bigger hole for water to flow through.

"Then we heard it would be too costly - I think that's putting a price on a life."

Mr Camilleri said that at some stage the Walkerston Bypass would have road trains taking cattle to the Borthwicks meatworks on it.

"We don't want to play with them," he said.

He said the frustrating thing was that once something was built it was there forever.

"Apparently it's easier to put a four-lane highway under the Brisbane River than it is to put two lanes under a bridge that isn't even built," he said.

Mr Latter said an independent engineering report had squelched TMR's argument that an underpass would increase the risk of flooding in the area.

"In fact, an underpass fitted with proper drainage would markedly improve a wet weather situation by ensuring flood waters were properly channelled and managed," he said.

He described Minister Bailey's argument that building an underpass would hold up construction for months as patently untrue.

"The engineering report showed that the underpass could be easily added to current plans without any significant hold-up," he said.

"When it comes to the safety issues raised by the growers, the minister is adopting a 'nothing to see here' attitude, which is simply breathtaking.

"This department is clearly glossing over the safety risk.

"The minister's patronising plea for drivers to simply 'drive carefully' is astonishing when he must be acutely aware of the record rate of traffic accidents in the state."

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