Bruce Highway study highlights ‘inconsistent’ standards
A STUDY of the Bruce Highway has highlighted inconsistent safety standards on the 1652km road that stretches from Cairns to Brisbane.
The observational study completed last week analysed road conditions from Townsville south and was based on eight variables including the frequency and length of overtaking lanes, width of verges and surface quality
The damning report ranked the stretch between Home Hill and Mackay as the "worst" across all eight variables with Gympie to Brisbane held up as the future vision standard for the highway.
Regional economist Colin Dwyer said he believed the road should have a consistent minimum safety standard with more overtaking lanes, wider roads, improved surface conditions and, where possible, north and south-bound traffic separated.
"The purpose of it is to raise awareness of the inconsistent (safety) standards that exist on the Bruce Highway," he said.
"We are concerned about people driving to see family and not having the same standard of safety as someone who might live in a different section of the road."
The study found comparatively the road between Home Hill and Mackay had few overtaking lanes over a short distance, consistently 'very poor' surface condition, consistently 'very poor' verges and a consistently poor median strip and barriers.
The road between Childers and Brisbane ranked as 'very good to excellent' in all categories.
As part of his findings, Mr Dwyer presented seven recommendations to "prioritise safety" on these road.
He said until the worst sections were upgraded the speed limit should be lowered to 90km/h to improve safety.
His recommendations for the road include the development of a consistent safety standard that applies to the whole length of the road, the appointment of a North Queensland representative on the Bruce Highway Trust Advisory Council, prioritised fixes for potholes and surface damage, as well as the installation of median strips, wider verges, more overtaking lanes and barriers along the road.
A Department of Transport and Main Roads spokesman said it was investing $12.6 billion in its 15-year Bruce Highway Upgrade Program, the largest road infrastructure project in Queensland, to transform the "length and breadth of the highway".
The program which began seven years ago in 2013 includes works like the $1 billion Gympie Bypass, the $812 million upgrade between Caloundra Rd and the Sunshine Motorway, and the $497 million Mackay Ring Road.
- There are way fewer overtaking lanes north of Rockhampton than below Rockhampton
- There are better sized verges between Childers and Gympie than in North Queensland.
- Around Bowen and the Whitsundays, a major tourist driving zone, verges were comparatively narrow with steep drop-offs and mostly unsuitable to stop in an emergency.
- Less evidence of effective median strips from Home Hill to Mackay than from Tannum Sands to Gympie. On one occasion near Bowen a wide load forced every oncoming vehicle on to the narrow verge and off the road.
- The surface of the highway was inconsistent, with the consistently worst sections of road surface observed near Bowen and Mackay.
- A range of different barriers are used on the road. Some sections had steel rope barriers, some had metal barriers, and other sections had none.
- There were consistent light traffic volumes between Gympie and Townsville and heavier traffic from Noosa to Brisbane.