‘Death zone' encroaches north
THE Bruce Hwy's infamous death stretch has moved north.
With crashes down and fatalities almost a thing of the past between Gympie and Cooroy, residents to Gympie's north say their stretch of highway is now the one needing attention.
The highway has killed 25 people on the Fraser Coast since 2007 and injured more than 100 others, according to a report this week in the Fraser Coast Chronicle.
It is a problem which some say could be worsened when the Cooroy-to-Curra bypass of Gympie is completed, because of the large volume of high-speed traffic which would suddenly find itself on a two-lane highway with lower speed limits and often unexpected dangers.
The paper reports that on latest Transport and Main Roads Department figures, 10 people were involved in vehicle crashes between Glenwood and the Isis River in 2010-11, with 45 hospitalised. The figure was a significant increase from 2009-10 data, which showed one death and nine hospitalisations on the same 95km stretch of road.
Wide Bay MP Warren Truss and his neighbouring federal MP, Hinkler's Paul Neville agreed this week the federal budget had failed to allocate the money needed "to mend the Bruce".
Mr Truss said it was right to attend to the Cooroy to Curra stretch first because at that time there were higher levels of fatalities on that road than on the Fraser Coast section.
"So doing Cooroy to Curra first was right, on the basis of fatalities and problems.
"But clearly the fatalities are moving further north on the road and what it clearly demonstrates is that once Cooroy to Curra is finished, we've got to continue to extend it further north."
Mr Neville said the new federal budget contained "no new money for roads".
He said the money spoken about in the budget had all been previously allocated.
The Federal budget has also come under fire for its lack of boosted spending south of Gympie.
Gympie civic and business leaders branded the budget a big disappointment and said Gympie drivers had every right to be angry at the lack of extra funding for the highway upgrade.
The budget's $388 million to finish Section B of the Cooroy-to-Curra stretch was a re-announcement of money already committed to the project.
"The Bruce Hwy accounts for one in six deaths on our national highways and to see that really it's just being treated with spot funding and a few dollars here and there is a very disappointing result," the RACQ's Paul Turner said.
Gympie MP David Gibson also expressed disappointment.
"We cannot allow the Bruce Hwy bypass to continue to be neglected," he said.