The Riddells say heavy vehicles working the highway site are a daily hazard.
The Riddells say heavy vehicles working the highway site are a daily hazard. Craig Warhurst

Dam highway causes stress

TRACY and Jason Riddell are the forgotten victims of the Traveston Crossing dam debacle.

The dam did not go ahead, but the malady lingers on for the Riddells and their ruined Coles Creek Road neighbourhood.

For them the saga continues, but with no hope of compensation or relief from the ongoing consequences of a plan that no longer exists.

“We’re collateral damage,’ Jason told The Gympie Times.

“We didn’t sell to (the state government’s dam building company) Queensland Water Infrastructure, because the dam was not going to go ahead as far as we were concerned.

“But as far as our neighbourhood is concerned, it may as well have.”

The couple say the new highway route, designed to go around the dam’s inundation area, has torn their neighbourhood apart, despite the fact that it could easily have gone closer to the existing route, where the government already owned the land.

That would have left their surroundings pristine and beautiful.

Their neighbours and friends would still be around.

The social life they valued through the Federal school would have remained intact.

The enthusiasm they once had for doing up their beautiful property would still be there.

Their children would not be stressed and their home life, even their relationship, would not be under strain.

And that, they say, does not count the future disruption already threatened against them.

“We’ve lost our support networks, friends, neighbours and the school community.

“Next we’ve got the gas pipeline and the water pipeline,” they say.

And none of that includes the temporary, though reasonably long term disruption from the construction project itself.

“We’ve got fuel trucks, machinery and now, when we go down to the creek like we always used to, we’re told we’re trespassing on a building site.

“The trouble is we’re living in the middle of a construction site anyway.”

The highway route through the Riddells’ world was a political fix to allow the Traveston Crossing dam to go ahead and, despite the dam now having been rejected, the redirected highway route remains.

And it has torn apart the hopes and dreams of this family and many of their friends.

It does not go through their house but, in a way, they only wish it did – then they would have been bought out and compensated to some extent.

The Community Futures Task Force won’t help, because they are no longer dam victims.

Instead of a location and the support of friends, they now have dust and noise and they have lost the peaceful enjoyment of life in an otherwise spot.

Gympie Times

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