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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Calls to start flood immunity projects for highway

WITH the mass clean-up following ex-tropical cyclone Jasper underway, a local MP is pushing to ensure critical flood immunity projects outside the devastation zone are not forgotten.

Hinchinbrook MP and KAP Deputy Leader Nick Dametto has contacted newly appointed Transport and Main Roads Minister, Mr. Bart Mellish, about these projects, including the Bruce Highway.

Mr Dametto said it would be wrong to compare the damage in Hinchinbrook to electorates such as Cook, Cairns, Mulgrave, Barron River and Hill, but nevertheless, road closures and flooding along the entire northern stretch of the Bruce Highway must still be urgently addressed.

“Following the recent deluge, the Bruce Highway was closed in four places across the Hinchinbrook electorate,” he said.

“With critical freight services now trying to prioritise reaching the Far North, it is imperative that the Bruce Highway remains open and fully operational.

“It’s a fact that another major rain event in the near future will see the Bruce closed again, and that would be devastating to the communities north of us who desperately need that supply chain open – there’s no reason why it should be like this.”

Mr Dametto said there are two particular areas of the highway that close every year due to flooding and frustratingly and both are fully funded Transport and Main Roads flood immunity projects.

“The first is the notorious Gairloch washaway north of Ingham and the second is at Dallachy Road/Bruce Highway, south of Tully – the Dallachy Road project has been dragged out for more than seven years,” he said.

“Dallachy Road was in the early stages of commencement when the Federal Government called their 90-day review of infrastructure projects.

“Culverts were delivered to the site in readiness for the project and regrettably, that’s where they have remained for several months, slowly sinking into the mud.”

Blenners Transport Director Les Blennerhassett said the Dallachy Road project must be re-tendered now so that construction can begin in April, as soon as the wet season has passed.

“There’s no point waiting for June to put the tender out and start construction just before the next wet starts,” he said.

“They’ve had more than enough time sitting on this, it has to go tender – give us a confirmed start date in the first half of 2024, anything short of that won’t be good enough.

Mr Blennerhassett said if the department is not going to start on these projects, allowances need to be given for HC class vehicles (trucks) to pass through 300 millimetres of water.

“The minute Gairloch has water over the road there is a blanket road closure to all vehicle types,” he said.

“Semi-trailers are not going to get washed away in 300mm of water and allowing trucks through at that height means essential freight is getting to where it’s needed up to 12 hours earlier than it otherwise would.

“This allowance shouldn’t apply to any car, not even four-wheel drives but in the absence of structural damage, there is no reason why a 50-tonne truck can’t pass through water half a wheel deep.

“The governments talk a lot about the cost of living hitting Queenslanders hard, yet they are doing nothing to reduce these ridiculous freight delays that will only see costs passed on to consumers for pricey detours and alternative routes.”

Keep up with the latest news in Cairns and the Far North, and check out some of our top stories this week: JCU scientists discover grave warning and Beware of scammers after disasters.

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