Council joins push to upgrade road network
FOR the first time since 2013, a statewide road action working group has sought financial support from local government.
Gladstone Regional Council joined 40 other councils in committing $5000 to the Inland Queensland Roads Action Plan Working Group.
Councillors agreed to lend their support only on the basis the group made the Dawson Hwy and surrounding road network a priority.
But cattle farmer and former councillor Leo Neill-Ballantine fears he will grow old and grey before there is road train access to Gladstone Port.
Without large vehicle access on the highway, the cost and time to bring large volumes of goods into Australia's second largest port is too much for some businesses.
Currently truck drivers are forced to stop more than 100km away - in Biloela or Gracemere - to off-load at least one trailer.
Mr Neill-Ballantine says road trains need to be able to come within 10km of the city if businesses are to stay viable.
There have been six applications in as many months lodged with the Department of Transport and Main Roads to operate a road train between Calliope and Biloela. All have been denied.
Highways and roads are given different classifications to carry different types of vehicles based on the quality of the road.
For road train access into the port and development area the route would need to be upgraded to cope with the weight and size of the road trains.
"We've been talking about road train access for years," Mr Neill-Ballantine said.
"This means a lot to the farming community and it's time to actually do something about it."
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A representative from the Department of Main Roads and Transport said the road was not wide enough to accomodate the 2.5m-wide road trains and the weight limits on bridges at Double Creek and Maxwelton Creek were too low.
Regional Development Australia CEO Glenys Schuntner, said securing road train access for the Dawson Hwy to Calliope was a perfect example of why the Inland Queensland Roads Action Plan Working Group was formed.
"The more frequently a driver has to change the mode of their vehicle or break down road trains, the greater the productivity loss," Ms Schuntner said.
She said the major freight routes on the Flinders, Capricorn and Dawson Hwys were already experiencing traffic congestion and the poor road quality added significant costs to vehicle "wear and tear".
The group was formed in 2013 to collectively represent councils and lobby governments for funding to improve Queensland's road networks.
The initial funding from the 40 different councils will pay for consultation services to form a draft long term plan to be released by October.
The group will use that planning and research to lobby the federal and state governments for funding to improve the road network.
Did you know?
The State Government Heavy Vehicle Action Plan includes establishing road train access along the Dawson Hwy between Biloela and Gladstone. But there is no funding, or estimated cost.