Experienced truckie Craig Fraser can’t believe what he’s seeing as he drives along the busy Gore Highway in Queensland each day.
Despite much fanfare from the state and federal governments about the rehabilitation work being done to improve this major freight route between Toowoomba and Goondawindi, the reality for Fraser – and thousands of other truckies using this highway – is a completely different picture.
In the newly-opened section of the Gore between Pampas and Millmerran, for example, Fraser says the costly road is literally falling part.
He snapped off the two pictures you see in this story while waiting at a roadworks red light as proof, stirring a chorus of similar stories from other drivers using the same road when he first posted the shots in the On The Pads Queensland Facebook group.
Fraser says the road is so bad that two bolts on his dolly shock absorbers recently snapped, despite being almost an inch thick, something he’s never struck in more than 25 years behind the wheel.
“The Gore Highway all the way out to the border is crap,” said Fraser who carts containers between Goondawindi and Brisbane each day in an A-double.
“That section you saw in the photos is already starting to come apart and on the next part it’s the same thing. It’s already starting to take a lot of the rock out on the wheel tracks and it’s about to start coming apart.
Fraser says he’d like to see more checks and balances put in place when it comes to the contractors doing the work and says the governments should build highways to a standard, not to a price.
“We’ve got to have all this road-friendly suspension to get all these extra PBS weights and then we’re driving on that.
“Guys are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment and it’s just getting destroyed on the main road from Brisbane to go out west.”
Fraser says the resulting operating costs are even harder to swallow when he regularly sees a council truck with hot mix and a “couple of guys with shovels” doing running repairs.
“They stomp along the road and when they come to a pothole they just throw the hot mix in off the back of their truck and keep moving along.
“Two weeks later they’re back at the start of the highway working their way back up again doing the exact same potholes, the exact same way. It’s incredible.
“These are our roads, bought and paid for by us, the taxpayers and the councils and governments around Australia have an obligation to maintain them in good working order, and they aren’t doing that, and it’s not acceptable.”
In an April statement about $18.2 million of rehabilitation works on the Gore, Transport and Main Roads said project engineers have had to use “considerable ingenuity” to deal with a “challenging” environment.
“The Gore Highway runs through the Condamine floodplain which makes it very tricky to build on,” said Assistant Minister for Regional Roads Bruce Saunders.
“The soils contract and expand with changing weather conditions like floods, so finding the right solution has been challenging.”
The state government said works involve using a specialised machine to recycle the existing road base materials before laying a seal over the full width of the road, which it said would provide a more “robust” highway and smoother ride for road users.
“We are optimistic this treatment method will prolong and extend the life of the road, making it safer for motorists and increasing network capacity and efficiency,” Saunders said.
“We are always looking for ways to improve on what we do, and this trial will help us to determine how we repair roads in the future to make them safer and more robust.”
Big Rigs has contacted TMR for more comment.