WE WERE THERE: Campaign win on deadly road
ONE of the longest community protest campaigns imaginable is the one that finally achieved action to upgrade the Bruce Hwy.
It involved tireless lobbying by the Gympie region community and its leaders, backed by a campaign in this newspaper.
A road carrying far too much high-speed traffic in both directions, with private driveways and side streets opening directly on to it, often without turning lanes, was a death trap.
The RACQ rated it the most dangerous stretch of national highway per kilometre in Australia.
It seemed almost everyone knew a person who had lost a loved one or friend.
Then in 2009 came a major breakthrough when ambulance chief Wayne Sachs paid his own way to Canberra to join a delegation of community leaders, pleading for action from then Labor Transport Minister Anthony Albanese.
Mr Albanese refused to meet State MP David Gibson because of political differences.
Mr Sachs stepped in to replace him, impressing the minister with his first-hand knowledge of the horrors that had become a daily reality for our region.
Mr Albanese was convinced and quickly moved to accelerate funding for the upgrade.
By 2013, Mr Albanese and Mr Gibson were working together, even smilingly photographed jointly turning the first sod on the second section of highway to be upgraded.
We are a lot safer now, even if the job is not yet complete.