FIX IT: Jim McDonald MP is calling for urgent funding for the Warrego Highway. Just minutes after this photo was taken, yet another crash occurred less that 1km away at the Summerholm Rd intersection - thankfully the driver sustained only minor injuries.
FIX IT: Jim McDonald MP is calling for urgent funding for the Warrego Highway. Just minutes after this photo was taken, yet another crash occurred less that 1km away at the Summerholm Rd intersection - thankfully the driver sustained only minor injuries. Dominic Elsome

Warrego Highway fix needed before more lives are lost

TRAFFIC on the Warrego Highway has increased by 25.6per cent in the past seven years according to Member for Lockyer Jim McDonald, and that figure is only going to grow.

Incidents have become commonplace and Mr McDonald says the Walloon to Withcott section is over- represented in crashes and "significant investment" by the government is needed.

In a speech to parliament on November 1, he labelled the highway "outdated" and "underfunded".

The former Laidley police station officer in charge said new overpasses at key intersections on the highway were needed, citing the most recent fatal crash at Hatton Vale last month that claimed the life of an 80-year-old woman.

"If there was an adequate overpass like at Plainland, that lady would still be alive," Mr McDonald said.

He pleaded with drivers to take greater care on the roads but said this was only one part of reducing the road toll - more was needed.

"Will crashes stop if everyone is 100per cent vigilant? Yes. Will everybody be 100per cent vigilant? No. We're humans, we make mistakes," he said.

We've got to engineer roads so that if somebody makes a mistake, they or another driver don't lose their life.

But he said the overpasses the region so desperately needed should have already been built.

Documents show Department of Transport representatives attended a meeting of the Hatton Vale District Progress in October 1995 and told the meeting 12interchanges with six overpasses were planned between Haigslea and Withcott.

Twenty-three years later and only two of these interchanges have been completed.

A representative said the Department of Transport and Main Roads was only established in 2009 when Queensland Transport and the Department of Main Roads merged.

They said the department had no details of the meeting but was committed to delivering a safe transport system for Queensland.

"Our long-term vision is to upgrade the Warrego Highway between Dinmore and Helidon Spa to motorway standard, including building new interchanges and service roads," the representative said, adding that timing of the upgrades depended on funding," they said.

But Mr McDonald believed that simply wasn't good enough.

"They're spending hundreds of millions of dollars in Brisbane to improve travel times - we just want to stop people dying," he said.

"In my mind, it not a question of can we afford it - we can't afford not to."

Simple solutions could go a long way to safety

LIKE many Lockyer Valley residents, Brightview's Kate Burns uses the Warrego Highway daily, and on her commute uses the Niemeyer Rd intersection.

Mrs Burns said the recent fatal crash at the intersection showed change was needed to improve safety along the busy route.

She said short of a radical redesign, simple changes could make huge differences to safety at intersections

on the highway, with drivers often queuing across the median section while attempting to turn.

"In one particular case I had a woman on my right side who then prevented any vehicles that were coming off the highway to come into Niemeyer Rd, and I had a motorbike on my left," Mrs Burns said.

Going from a standing start to 100km/h with three very different vehicle types - that does to me pose an issue.

She said simple solutions such as signage warning drivers to cross one at a time only and merging lanes were desperately needed, as well as a clear indication of how traffic should flow in the median section.

"There needs to be line markings to delineate the left and right sides, because that middle piece is still a part of the road," she said.

Mrs Burns said however, a permanent solution would eventually be needed, but stopped short of calling for an overpass at Niemeyer Rd due to the cost and increased traffic local roads would experience as a result.

"I do think Fairway Drive would definitely warrant an overpass, maybe on the smaller road like Niemeyer, underpasses may be more beneficial," she said.

Survive your drive

EMERGENCY services are increasingly worried by the potential crashes along the Warrego Highway and are urging the public to drive with caution.

Gatton police station officer in charge Senior Sergeant Rowland Brown said safety on the highway was a top priority.

We're always concerned with the Warrego Highway, because of its potential for very serious crashes.

The region's section of the highway is over represented in crash statistics.

Data from the Department of Transport and Main Roads showed the section between Walloon and Withcott made up just 9 per cent of the Warrego Highway's total length, it accounted for 30 per cent of all traffic crashes between 2011 and 2017.

Sen Sgt Brown said this was likely due to the section's combination of high speed and large traffic volume.

"The volume of traffic beyond Toowoomba tails off, and once it gets closer to Brisbane, the speeds drop because the traffic builds up," he explained.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services are equally concerned.

Gatton Station Officer Brad Jeffs asked the community to take greater care on the roads, as the effects of serious crashes were felt not just by victims' families but also the emergency services that respond.

"Each time they respond to a road traffic collision where someone is hurt or dies, it has a really personal impact upon them," Mr Jeffs said.

He said he was concerned at the numbers of incidents that were occurring on the highway.

"There is an increase in road traffic crashes we're responding to and we are finding more and more that they're starting to become more serious," he said.

Both Sen Sgt Brown and Mr Jeffs agreed while education and enforcement were vital components to reducing road trauma, engineering solutions would also form an important component of any improvement.