Patients are airlifted from the scene of a double fatality on the Bruce Highway two kilometres north of Tiaro.
Patients are airlifted from the scene of a double fatality on the Bruce Highway two kilometres north of Tiaro. Alistair Brightman

Major $18m upgrade to improve Bruce Hwy safety

ONE of the most dangerous roads in Queensland will receive more than $18 million in upgrades, as part of a joint announcement by the state and federal governments.

It comes after at least nine fatal accidents between Maryborough and Tiaro over 15 years, and the highway being labelled one of the most dangerous roads in Queensland in December 2016.

The $18.36 million upgrade to the Bruce Hwy north of Tiaro will involve the development of extended overtaking lanes, a widened median, and new turning lanes at intersections.

Of these, Tahlia Lane (new right-turn lane), Canterwood Rd (new left and right-turn lanes), Petersen Rd (new left and right-turn lanes) and Hoffman Rd (new right-turn lane) were included in the announcement.

The upgrades are due to start this week.

After stating he would raise the issue of the highway when Parliament resumes, federal member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien said the new upgrades were motivated by the spate of tragic accidents this past month.

"While big improvements have been made between Cooroy and Gympie, there is more work to do," Mr O'Brien said.

"As a police officer I've dealt with many fatalities on the highway, and governments, drivers, regulators and vehicle manufacturers all need to play their part to prevent these tragedies.

"The Bruce is a vital transport corridor through Wide Bay connecting Maryborough, Gympie and local communities to Brisbane and beyond. We need to make it safe for all road users to keep traffic, freight and industry moving."

An analysis of 15 years of crash data reveals at least nine fatal crashes along the stretch of highway between Tiaro and Maryborough, but recent events only add to the count.

Just last week, two people died as a result of a fatal crash just outside Tiaro, after a head-on collision with an out-of-control vehicle.

Earlier this month, a 75-year-old Glenwood woman and her dog died after an accident outside of the United Service Station at Gunalda.

On March 26, Nathaniel "Nathan" Abante, his nine-year-old son Benjamin and 18-month-old daughter Ariel Naomi died after their vehicle collided with a truck.

With the road accounting for 11 of 21 high-risk sections of national highway identified in last year's Australian Road Assessment Program report, recent events suggest it's not hard to see why.

While the targeted areas are not the site of last week's accident, Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders said the upgrades would go towards preventing accidents along the stretch of highway.

"We are looking at minimising the effect the road has on accidents as much as we can," he said.

"It will go towards helping prevent these accidents, but one of the major things is driver error."

Federal Transport and Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester said improving safety on the Bruce was a key component of the Federal Government's $50 billion infrastructure investment package.

"Given the recent tragic road incidents along this stretch of the highway, we are more committed than ever to delivering a safer road network for Queenslanders," Mr Chester said.



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