Four lanes or two? Big question remains for Tiaro bypass
The bypass may be locked in but debate over the form it takes is far from over.
Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien says support is growing for the four-lane format which the former police officer has been championing in the interest of community safety.
He said the people of Tiaro and the Wide Bay electorate were passionate about getting the bypass upgrade to four lanes to the point where his mobile was inundated with messages about the most critical piece of infrastructure the southern end of the region has seen in decades.
"If we are going to build a brand new green field piece of the national highway, it should be built to the standard we have built 50km south of Tiaro on the Gympie Bypass," he said
"To do otherwise is to treat the people of Maryborough poorly."
Mr O'Brien said the Queensland Government's plan for a two lane bypass didn't make sense given the volume of traffic moving through the town and the plan wasn't the safest option.
He flagged recent crashes over the Easter break near Tiaro, which caused traffic chaos, as cases in point.
He is also supporting a petition before Queensland parliament calling for a four lane bypass which currently has more than 1150 signatures. Fraser Coast councillor and former LNP candidate for Maryborough Denis Chapman is the chief petitioner.
"It's a good solid start, I expect there will be more as we let people know what we are fighting for," Mr O'Brien said.
Former Tiaro mayor and respected community leader Linda Harris said Tiaro had accepted the highway would bypass the town, but their were mixed opinions in the community about whether the bypass should be two or four lanes.
She said the bypass would reduce the traffic flowing through Tiaro, creating the feel of a quiet country town but reducing the number of people coming through and subsequently impacting local businesses.
Mrs Harris personally believes the money for the project would be better spent on building four lanes now, rather than upgrading to four lanes in the future.
"We've got to plan for the future, and we've got to make the most of it and have the best advantage for the people who live in the town," she said.
Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey insisted the two-lane project was currently being designed to modern safety standards with physical separation of northbound and southbound traffic lanes.
"I've also spoken to Mr O'Brien and committed to including a median strip or an equivalent along the length of the new road to physically separate north and south-bound traffic to ensure head on crashes are not possible," Minister Bailey said.
"If Llew O'Brien wants this new stretch of road to be four lanes instead of two, then he should be working with his own Morrison Federal Government to get the necessary increased funding.
"It will take a lot of trucks off Tiaro's Main Street making it safer for Tiaro pedestrians and improve sections that currently flood, so the Bruce Highway will be much less likely to be cut after heavy rain."