A veteran truckie has raised serious safety concerns about the impacts that running repairs on the $1.6 billion Toowoomba Bypass are having on truck movements in the region.
With the volume of traffic now on the old range, the driver fears that it’s going to “end up fatal” unless a solution is found soon.
“What’s going on at the moment is just insanity,” said the Brisbane-based truckie, who preferred to stay anonymous due to concerns about job security.
“These trucks are not made to go down that mountain [as much as] four times a day.”
The truckie says too many inexperienced drivers are going down the old range in loaded A-doubles at dangerous speeds, damaging diffs and gearboxes in the process.
“I’ve driven both the Kenworths and the Scanias and they will hold in a lower gear.”
“The government needs to get off their arse and do something here. It’s also taking us 45 minutes to get through Toowoomba in these road trains. You can already see the ruts going through town. That’s a lot of weight going through town roads.”
The truckie also questioned why PBS vehicles are still being allowed on the bypass when other road trains are being forced to breakdown at Charlton.
“It isn’t suitable for any of us. This road is a rolling shitshow. Why isn’t anyone looking at the big picture?”
While the repairs drag on, the truckie says they’d also like to see an increased police presence on the old range to monitor truck speeds.
“The police actually need to sit there somewhere, maybe halfway down that range, in an unmarked car and just take down the truck numbers and the speeds that they’re doing.
“It’s only a matter of time, til you get a bit further down, someone’s broken down, all the cars have slowed up in a hurry, and one of these f**wits takes out six cars. That’s how it’s going to end. The truck will hold it at 50km/h? Mate, there is too much traffic on that hill to be f**king around doing it.”
Meanwhile, the TMR advised the industry today that eastbound lanes of the bypass, between the Warrego West interchange at Charlton and the Warrego East interchange at Helidon Spa, will remain closed until further notice.
The westbound lanes of the bypass continue to operate as usual after a temporay closure last week to install shipping containers filled with ballast in a “critical section” in a bid to prevent any rock fall impacting the traffic lanes.
Local machinery operator Clem Wheatley, for one, isn’t surprised there are now major faults that are beginning to show in the 41km bypass.
He worked on the project from year dot, and would routinely raise concerns to supervisors about what he felt was inadequate compacting being done along the route.
Wheatley now refuses to drive the eastern section of the bypass due to safety concerns.
“If we get the really heavy rain that is possible for this area, there are going to be failures right across this site, not just in that one area that is causing the problems,” he said.
“Once it gets into that it’s going to let go, it’s got to let go.”
High-profile truckie Rod Hannifey says that “as per usual”, the industry wasn’t consulted before work started on the bypass and truckies are now the ones paying the price.
“It’s left us with something that we should be charging them for, not them charging us,” said Hannifey, who is also the president of the National Road Freighters Association.
“An engineer marvel they called it, I think they misled us.
“We are stuck with that for another 200 years, but if that had been done properly they could have taken away another kilometre of ascent and a kilometre of ascent. What sort of range do you have a dip in the middle where you have to climb back up again?”
TMR southern Queensland regional director Bill Lansbury said experts and engineers would continue to monitor the slope after it had been hit by significant wet weather.
“Finding a solution to the problem is proving extremely complex,” Lansbury said.
“Repairs need to be balanced with safety considerations for traffic and construction crews.