'We need four lanes to Tiaro'
FOUR deaths in just six days on the Bruce Hwy last week have prompted Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien to promise to seek further talks with Federal Transport Minister Darren Chester about fast-tracking the upgrade of the Bruce Hwy around Gympie and to its north.
A 75-year-old Glenwood woman and her pet dog were killed on Friday afternoon as they pulled out of the new United service station at Gunalda, a tragic start to the Easter school holidays that occurred less than a week after a 45-year-old man and two children, aged nine and two years, also died.
Progressive upgrading of the highway south of Gympie has lowered the road toll in what had become deadly black spots, but those black spots have migrated north.
Mr O'Brien, a former accident investigator with Queensland Police, said that while safety improvements such as lane widening were being undertaken between Gympie and Tiaro, "we need four lanes to Tiaro and beyond”.
He intimated that the best way to make that happen soon rather than later was to fast track the final section of the Cooroy to Curra bypass, estimated to cost about $1billion.
Once that is funded and scheduled, focus could shift to double-laning the Bruce Hwy from Curra to Tiaro, at least.
"Ultimately we need a new four-lane corridor,” Mr O'Brien said.
"I think there may be some provision for bypassing Tiaro.”
Detailed design work for Section D, which will complete the bypass around Gympie and link up with the old Bruce Hwy at Curra, is expected to be completed by early to mid-2018.
Once that is done, a proper business case for building Section D will be prepared.
"That will give us the ability to project where we will spend money into the future,” Mr O'Brien said.
As police continue to investigate the cause of both incidents, Regional Queensland Road Policing Operations Inspector Peter Flanders said every fatal crash was "an incredible waste of human life”.
"(As a police officer) you feel personally devastated that people have lost their lives, but as a police officer involved in this part of policing for a long time, I can't help but get frustrated and angry,” Insp Flanders said.
"These two incidences and almost every other crash on the road is utterly and completely preventable.
"It's not the car, it's not the road, it is the drivers of vehicles putting something other than the driving task before the driving task, and result in getting in serious or fatal crashes.”
The officer said it was an "absolute tragedy” when families almost make it to their holiday destinations, take a risk and don't make it.
"No matter what, your family and your friends are the most important things in your life so drive with that in mind,” Insp Flanders said.
"Whether you're the person at fault or not, if you're the survivor of a crash where there's been a fatality, you can't shut it off, it stays with you for the rest of your life.”
Insp Flanders said there was "absolutely no difference” between a death caused by murder and a death caused by a crash.
"The community jumps up and down and cries out when we have a murder and I'm not belittling that, but it is no different than a road death,” he said.
"Road deaths have an incredible ripple effect, because there are so many families, immediate and extended who are affected by that one crash.”