Call for Bruce Highway alternative

The poor state of the Bruce Highway between Brisbane and Cairns continues to contribute to Australia’s mounting road toll, so it’s no surprise that people are calling for an alternate route, particularly for truck traffic.

The Bruce has a shocking history in the road toll stakes and gained world renown after being named one of the 25 worst roads in the world – coming in at number 14 alongside some of the most notorious roads on the planet, such as Pakistan’s Nanga Parbat Pass and the infamous ‘Death Road’ in Bolivia.

It has been the subject of debate for an extremely long period of time and is recognised by all sides of politics, road safety agencies, law enforcement officers and emergency personnel as a road to avoid. However, it is the main highway link between the northern capital and major towns and cities – and there is simply no alternative.

In frightening statistics published recently, it is revealed that while the highway accounts for only eight per cent of the country’s road network, it also accounts for a fifth of Australia’s road toll.

Then there are weather problems with the highway, which is cut by flooding on numerous occasions each year, badly affecting road transport operations. And just to rub salt into the wound, it was recently closed south of Bowen due to a two-metre sink hole that stopped a large number of trucks in transit.

While many projects are already underway to fix the 1,700 km highway, the 10-year plan currently in place will not solve all the problems. It is estimated the cost to improve the road will be around $8 billion – not including additional costs that may occur over time and further impact trucking companies using the road.

But, now there is a suggestion on the table that will see the Hann Highway upgraded to become an alternate road – a move that, according to politicians, will finally offer a weather-proof route between Cairns and Melbourne.

Now, it’s all great in theory and if work is carried out expediently to surface a 130 kilometre gravel section along the way, the Hann could offer a solution that would see a major amount of truck traffic go through Hughenden and link with highways to southern capitals, but the question must be asked: How long will this project take and what financial commitment can be secured?

In dollar terms, it has been estimated works will cost $100 million – a drop in the bucket compared to the monies required to fix the Bruce – but the fact remains that solutions are required quickly to create a road connection that will improve transport services and safety alike.

Until a solution is found and action taken, road transporters will continue to have services interrupted and bear the cost while road crash statistics will not improve. Fix the Bruce or deliver an alternative as soon as possible. Let’s see a decision made and action taken!

 

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