‘SUBSTANDARD’: Deadly roads where crashes are every 3 weeks
Business and political leaders have renewed their call for safety upgrades on the main roads leading in and out of the Cooloola Coast as domestic tourism continues to surge following the COVID pandemic.
Rainbow Beach community stalwart Tony Stewart is preparing to launch a petition to push the State Government into action about the road, the latest step in what has been a fight now entering its sixth year.
Mr Stewart said that while driving between Gympie and Rainbow Beach before the last holiday period he counted 400 vehicles heading in the opposite direction.
"And that's not at peak time," he said, adding traffic was only going to increase given the growth of domestic and interstate tourism since COVID.
The State Government's own crash data reveals the stretch between Gympie and Tin Can Bay was the most dangerous non-Federal controlled road in the region; 14 people were killed in 13 crashes on the road between 2011-2018.
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In addition, there have been 312 crashes on the two roads combined from 2001-2019 that did not result in death - the equivalent of one crash every three weeks.
Mr Stewart believed the State was only interested in statistics, but given the government's own data he questioned what else needed to happen for the road to be upgraded.
"I think that's enough - what other evidence do you want?" he said.
"I don't know."
He said stopping bays to allow slower vehicles to pull over would be an acceptable solution in lieu of overtaking lanes.
In October 2017, Transport Minister Mark Bailey said in a letter to Mr Stewart the department was investigating this option.
A Transport and Main Roads spokeswoman said yesterday it was investigating where new overtaking lanes could be installed on Tin Can Bay Rd, which already had several rest points.
"There is a rest area at the Tin Can Bay, Rainbow Beach roads intersection," she said.
"Widened shoulders on Tin Can Bay Road also enable motorists to pull over if needed."
"Since 2015, $20.8 million has been invested in improving safety, capacity and flood resilience on Tin Can Bay Road.
"The road will continue to be monitored to ensure safety is maintained.
"We all have a role to play in road safety and motorists are reminded to stick to the speed limits, abide by the road rules and drive to conditions."
However, Gympie MP Tony Perrett said this week the conditions of these roads were "substandard" given they were the main thoroughfare to the region's top tourist spots.
"It's a popular spot, a premier destination in Queensland," Mr Perrett said.
"The majority of people travelling to Fraser Island access it through Rainbow Beach."
Mr Perrett said the roads currently had "limited opportunities for passing", leading drivers to become frustrated and take risks "which have shown up in increasing traffic accidents and deaths".
"If the state wants to advance Queensland tourism it needs to put its money where its mouth is.
"I have been advocating for improvements on these roads for a number of years.
"I raised this again with the Minister late last year in a Question on Notice, last year in the parliament and again this year."
Gympie council communications manager Sharna Rowley said the council, which has representatives on the Traffic Advisory Road Safety Committee, had always advocated for upgrades to the road "and regularly discusses issues at the quarterly TARSC meeting, with the recent upgrade of Coondoo Bridge as an example".