By Margaret Maccoll
Having been knocked back by the Transport and Main Road (TMR) Minister in a request to use legislative means to halt quarry haulage trucks on Pomona-Kin Kin Road Mayor Clare Stewart, joined by Noosa MP Sandy Bolton and mother of four Anita Poteri last week sent an impassioned plea to Cordwell Resources.
Cr Stewart published an Open Letter to Cordwell Resources last week calling on the company to as a good corporate citizen, to stop trucks during school bus times and to significantly reduce truck movements to a more manageable level.
“This would clearly show Cordwell Resources is community-minded and shares our concerns about safety, especially for our local children,“ she said.
“Safety continues to be our number one concern. Not only for our residents, but also our local bus drivers and even tourists are becoming increasingly frightened for the safety of their loved ones.
“I fear the worst is inevitable unless something is done.
“None of us want to see an accident involving a quarry truck and our local school buses.“
Ms Poteri said the rural life of Kin Kin had been shattered by the more than 200 quarry trucks that pass along the main road and school bus route and had impacted the lives of everyone in the hinterland.
Kids can no longer ride their bikes to visit friends or ride horses along the road and every school day bus trip was filled with anxiety for parents, the driver and the kids, she said.
“There are quarry trucks passing by repeatedly. They don’t slow down. They don’t show any care for the school bus,“ she said. Ms Poteri said some children had refused to continue taking the school bus which had encountered “many incidents“ with quarry trucks along the route.
Ms Bolton said the trauma to the community could not be underestimated.
“Even though TMR and QPS have done everything in their role to increase safety, it cannot offset the danger of high volumes of trucks,” she said.
“Access routes were independently assessed as not capable of dealing with this volume. That Council and State powers cannot reduce these numbers, is the worst case of system failure I have ever seen,” Ms Bolton said.
Cr Stewart last month wrote to TMR Minister Mark Bailey to request he exercise his legislative powers under Section 46 of the Transport Infrastructure Act (TIA) to restrict the number of quarry trucks travelling along Pomona-Kin Kin Road.
But in reply Mr Bailey said TMR had limited powers under section 46 of the TIA which can only be implemented by the TMR Director-General and had historically been used temporarily in emergency situations, such as flooding or similar events, while infrastructure was assessed for safety and damage and to undertake remedial repairs.
“In regard to heavy vehicles on Kin Kin Road, the current safety record and road condition does not provide a strong enough rationale or defence for implementing section 46 of the TIA at this time,“ he said.
“It is important to note that placing temporary restrictions on general access vehicles on Kin Kin Road could also have a negative impact on important community services, local businesses and residents, such as potentially restricting access by refuse trucks, fire trucks and some buses. Restriction could result in an increase in heavy vehicles using the road when loads are separated.“
Mr Bailey placed the onus of responsibility back on Council saying the quarry at Kin Kin was a legally operating business, operating under a local government development approval and TMR had no authority to retrospectively place conditions on an existing approved development application.
“The issues around the quarry’s operations, including its suitability for the area, its impacts, the volume of heavy vehicles and haulage routes, are matters for Noosa Shire Council (NSC) and the operators of the quarry,“ he said.
Mr Bailey noted that the quarry management plan nominated Kin Kin Road as the primary route for heavy vehicle drivers travelling to and from the quarry and said TMR would support NSC considering amendments to the plan with the quarry operator, in order to share haulage routes across the surrounding local network to reduce the impact on Kin Kin Road.
He said TMR was committed to maintaining Kin Kin Road in a safe and serviceable condition for road users.
“TMR’s maintenance activity on Kin Kin Road has included pavement repairs, vegetation maintenance to reduce potential roadside hazards, and drainage works to help reduce the risk of future pavement damage. TMR is preparing for a program of road edge strengthening works at priority areas identified along Kin Kin Road. Additionally, the speed limit on several sections of Kin Kin Road has been reduced to slow traffic and improve safety for all road users. I am advised that general access vehicles (including truck and dog trailer combinations used by the quarry) can access all Queensland roads, and that TMR has not approved any vehicles above general access limits for Kin Kin Road,“ he said.
“TMR has also started design investigations for road improvements for two priority sections of Kin Kin Road, totalling three kilometres, between the southern foot of the Kin Kin range and Kin Kin township. Any outcome or future works identified through this process will need to compete for funding against other statewide priorities.“
“I understand this is a challenging issue and that Kin Kin Road is an important link for the Noosa Hinterland communities. Heavy vehicle transport is also vital for construction projects and other services at a time when the construction industry and maintaining jobs in communities has never been more critical. Sharing the road with heavy vehicles, especially on narrow sections of road can be intimidating, and extra caution is needed. The Queensland Government encourages all road users to share the road network safely and drive to the conditions for the safety of all road users.“
Mr Bailey said TMR was continuing with investigations and assessments relating to Kin Kin Road, and would update stakeholders with available information.