Dubbo-based interstate driver Rod Hannifey has grown all too accustomed to his campaigning for more rest areas falling on deaf ears. But a glaring omission in the newly released Tiaro bypass draft design has left the president of the National Road Freighters’ Association shaking his head in despair.
Much to Hannifey’s dismay, the $336 million allocated for nine kilometres of new four four-lane highway east of Tiaro, 226km north of Brisbane, has so far made no provisions for truckies’ fatigue management.
Hannifey said that the last time he drove south on the Bruce Highway into Brisbane, he counted just 10 truck bays after Apple Tree Creek, apart from an already over-taxed BP at Burpengary. And when they realign the road at Tiaro, six of those will disappear.
He said the situation had improved with the recent opening of the Traveston ‘mega servo’ 80km south of Tiaro, but more needs to be done.
“If they are going to bypass Tiaro and spend all that money [without building truck bays] that is just ludicrous for everyone coming out of North Queensland,” said Hannifey.
“They cannot, in all good conscience, ignore the fact there is virtually nowhere for them to stop if they’re getting tired approaching Brisbane.”
Hannifey is calling for more consultation with truckies. He said you only had to look at the “proliferation” of ill-advised stopping bays in the state to see what happens when you don’t.
“I was coming back from Central Queensland the other day and I counted three within a kilometre, and they were barely the size of the semi-trailer and an inch off the fog line, if you’re bloody lucky to get that far off.
“It’s like someone said, ‘oh shit, we’ve got money left, we better spend it, let’s build a stopping bay’.
“They seem to be wasting the money that could solve the problem.”
Queensland Trucking Association CEO Gary Mahon said he was also concerned to see no allowance for truckies in the bypass plans, and has raised the issue with the Bruce Highway Trust Advisory Council, of which he is a board member.
“It’s almost inexcusable to not incorporate decent rest area facilities [for truckies] in or around that bypass,” said Mahon.
“I would argue that given the investment being poured in, there should be a substantial pad either side of the road, not unlike Gatton.
“Where you can park a couple of dozen B-doubles both sides of the road, drive in and angle park, and drive straight back out.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Transport and Main Roads told Big Rigs that it has been investigating heavy vehicle rest area requirements and facilities at Tiaro as part of the project development.
“We contacted Queensland Trucking Association in late 2021 to seek advice about the significance of Tiaro as a heavy vehicle rest area to manage driver fatigue,” the spokesperson said in an email.
“Once preliminary investigations are complete, we will undertake further consultation with QTA and other stakeholders such as the National Road Freighters Association to discuss heavy vehicle rest area options.
“We are eager to work with QTA on heavy vehicle rest area provisions in this location, to ensure that whatever facility we provide has the necessary infrastructure to encourage truck drivers to continue to stop and revive once the bypass is in place.”