Mundubbera Durong Road, which locals have fought hard to upgrade, has taken another life. File Photo.
Mundubbera Durong Road, which locals have fought hard to upgrade, has taken another life. File Photo.

Call to fix deadly road after man killed, not found for days

CALLS to upgrade a notorious stretch of deadly road in the North Burnett have been reignited after a man was killed in a horror crash that went undiscovered for days.

According to Queensland police, the 25-year-old Taiwanese man was driving his Mazda 3 along Mundubbera Durong Road about 9pm, when the vehicle crashed through the John Peterson Bridge and into a water hole below.

The horrific scene was not discovered until Tuesday, September 29.

Mundubbera Durong Road has been the scene of multiple serious accidents in past years, including the death of a 40-year-old Toowoomba man in January 2019, and a single-vehicle rollover in August 2019, which hospitalised five.

The 20 year battle to futureproof the strategic freight route and upgrade the flood-prone John Peterson bridge was won earlier this year, as the State Government committed $5 million to enable the bridge to be replaced and realigned. This was to join a previous Federal commitment of $20 million to ensure construction will begin in the coming year.

The John Peterson Bridge has been a major cause for concern on this strategic north-south inland route between Mundubbera and Jandowae due to its age and state of repair, restriction as single lane, and low-level flood risk.

The Mundubbera to Jandowae Roads Working Group (RWG) - formed in 2017 to press the case - organised a petition in 2019 calling for the replacement of the bridge as well as upgrades and improvements to Mundubbera Durong Road.

In June, Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey announced to members of the North Burnett Regional Council and the RWG a detailed design of the John Peterson Bridge upgrade was in its final stages and when complete, construction on the replacement and realignment of the bridge would commence.

"This bridge is a critical link between three regions for education, tourism, health and industry, and today becomes part of an economic recovery plan to get Queensland going again," North Burnett Regional Council Mayor Rachel Chambers said.

"It will mean we will have safer access for our trucks throughout the year and will reduce our anxiety about rain events and their impact on the business."

According to a Transport and Main Roads spokeswoman, pre-construction activities are currently taking place on the $25 million, jointly funded project to replace the John Peterson Bridge and build new road approaches.

"Construction tenders are due to be called next year (2021). Construction dates will be confirmed once the tender has been awarded," she said.

"The recent crash is a tragedy and our thoughts are with the person's family and friends at this difficult time."

"Investigators are currently examining the crash to determine what factors like the fatal five were involved."

While progress is being made to improve driver safety in some regional areas, Member for Callide, Colin Boyce, said the infrastructure has not kept up with the times and progress is happening far too slowly.

"The Peterson Bridge is a very old bridge that was built 60-70 years ago, and there is a process underway to build a new bridge across the Boyne River. The road will be realigned so it goes past the Boynewood school and the Peterson Bridge will become redundant," Mr Boyce said.

"The road to Durong, there's a section approximately in the middle where the bitumen that needs addressing. One of the problems with the road infrastructure around Queensland is the auditor general has identified a projected $9 billion shortfall to road maintenance funding throughout the road network, throughout the state."

According to Mr Boyce, growing populations combined with larger transportation vehicles are not compatible with the ageing infrastructure on rural Queensland roads.

"Throughout the Callide electorate, we've got all these little wooden bridges, that were built many years ago. The traffic they're expected to carrying now - such as semi-trailers and heavy loads - they were never designed to do that."

"As a population, we've become a lot more mobile than we used to be, and some of these bridges just aren't up to standard."

While rural Queensland roads are being gradually attended to, Mr Boyce said this issue needs to be hit with more resources, more quickly, in order to keep drivers safe in these locations.

"The current government is not spending enough money on repairs and maintenance to the road infrastructure throughout the state, so you've got roads like Mundubbera Durong Road, which need significant money spent of them - particularly at the Boyne River bridge, which we are addressing at this point in time."

"It happens, but it all too slow."

The Department of Transport and Main Roads has been contacted for comment.

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