Katter calls for fast-track of highway upgrades

Katter calls for fast-track of highway upgrades

The planned installation of three over-taking lanes on the Flinders Highway between Townsville and Charters Towers is welcome but must be fast-tracked, Katter’s Australian Party Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter has said.

Mr Katter said the lack of over-taking lanes on this stretch of busy highway was a constant cause of concern to road users travelling between Charters Towers and Townsville, in his Traeger electorate.

He said safety issues on this stretch, compounded by high numbers of caravans during tourist season and the increased prevalence of road haulage of exports from North West Queensland to the Townsville Port, had led to tragedy in the past.

In a Question on Notice to Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey, Mr Katter implored the Minister to act immediately to identify and fund solutions to make the highway safer.

“(There is approximately) a 100 km stretch of road on the Flinders Highway between Charters Towers and Townsville, north of Mingela, which has no passing lanes and has seen increased use by road trains, often resulting in light vehicles making ostensibly dangerous overtaking moves so they may travel at 110 km/h without hindrance,” Mr Katter advised the Minister.

“Will the Minister commit to the Department of Transport and Main Roads urgently assessing the overtaking issues on this stretch of road and provide the necessary funding to make sure upgrades occur as soon as possible?” he asked.

In his response, provided this week, the Minister confirmed more overtaking lanes were planned but there was no timeline in place for the works to occur.

Following a horror weekend on Queensland roads, which saw the tragic loss of four lives on the Bruce Highway north and south of Townsville in a matter of hours, Mr Katter will now push for the works to be fast-tracked.

“I am pleased to confirm that the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) is finalising the plans for the installation of three overtaking lanes on the Flinders Highway between Townsville and Mingela, which will contribute to reducing these occurrences,” Minister Bailey advised.

“This important project will deliver three overtaking lanes, with a dual direction lane (both northbound and southbound) planned about 27 kilometres south of Townsville, and a single northbound overtaking lane about 67 kilometres south of Townsville.

“The overtaking lanes are jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland governments under the Roads of Strategic Importance early works package.

“While the timeframe for delivering these important upgrades is subject to further discussions with the Australian Government, the North Queensland community can be assured these will be under construction as soon as detailed design and procurement are completed.”

Mr Katter said every day the works were delayed, North Queensland motorists faced heightened and unnecessary risk on the road.

“All drivers have a responsibility to be safe behind the wheel but at the same time, governments have a responsibility to use our tax-payer dollars in a way that is reflective of what the community needs most,” he said.

“The funds needed for these works are a drop in the ocean to what is being spent on the Cross River Rail Project, which won’t save lives but will get inner-city commuters home a few minutes earlier each day.

“The government needs to be mindful about where its priorities lie.”

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