Death trap bridge could kill the unwary

Woolooga residents standing on the Running Creek bridge wanting an upgrade are Phil Stanford, Steve Turner, Sean Barrett, Nevile and Joy Turner and Sharon Turner.
Woolooga residents standing on the Running Creek bridge wanting an upgrade are Phil Stanford, Steve Turner, Sean Barrett, Nevile and Joy Turner and Sharon Turner. Renee Albrecht

THERE seems to be one constant factor in single-vehicle accidents in Woolooga. It's Running Creek Bridge.

The ground level wooden bridge, which is met either side by two serious bends and gravely road, has been the scene of four car accidents in the past 12 months.

And Woolooga residents are calling for funding to change the dangerous crossing.

"None of us want to be the first person to come across a fatal," cattle farmer Phil Stanford points out.

The group of Woolooga residents fear if something is not done soon, the problem will worsen.

Residents say the bridge, on Brooweena Woolooga Rd, has a combination of factors that make it highly dangerous.

Sharp bends approaching the bridge, coupled with loose gravel built up on the dirt on its approaches mean unwary drivers have a higher than normal chance of losing control over the bridge or down the embankments, residents say.

The bridge, which runs about 45 metres long, drops about four metres into water of an unknown depth.

"It's deep enough to submerge a car and drown you if you go off the edge," Mr Stanford said, peering over the edge.

Woolooga resident Sharon Turner said the problem is made worse by unknowing travellers being led across the bridge by their GPS navigators.

"The traffic has increased because we get tourists and people from the city whose GPSs have sends them on the shortest route," she said.

The road is used as a quicker path for people travelling between the South Burnett and Gympie.

"It's a dangerous spot, no ifs or buts," Sharon's husband Steve said.

In 1978, Mr Turner's brother was driving when his car went over the bridge. He said his grandfather's back was broken in the accident, and only a few months ago his father ran off the side of the bridge.

It seems every Woolooga local has a story about an accident on the bridge, including the recent accident where a woman was trapped in her car that was suspended from the bridge by the motorbike trailer it was pulling.

An attempt to address the problem long ago got as far as funding which resulted in surveying of a straightened road in readiness for a new bridge upstream.

"There's been money to fix this up for years but changes to government mean the money has been spent elsewhere," Mrs Turner said.

The question is - has the project been put on the back burner, or has it been put on the scrap heap?

The bridge is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Main Roads and Transport.

Residents thought funding from the Federal Government's Bridges Renewal Program may be a way to secure funding for a change to the crossing.

But probing on the issue found while the Commonwealth Government does supply funding to upgrade existing rural bridges, it would not cover new bridges or approaches.

And this is the big fix needed, according to locals.

"It needs to be fixed before it is too late," Mrs Turner said.

The Gympie Times did not hear back from Minister for Main Roads, Mark Bailey on the subject before close of business.

Gympie Times

Topics:  woolooga

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