Pedestrians are forced to negotiate a section with no footpath on the Burrum Heads-Pialba Road.
Pedestrians are forced to negotiate a section with no footpath on the Burrum Heads-Pialba Road.

Traffic jams frustrate schools

TRAFFIC snarls outside Xavier College in Hervey Bay were already causing problems before a locked car park exacerbated the situation.

Principal Kerry Swann said he was frustrated to find the second car park at his school had been locked by the Fraser Coast Regional Council during the school holidays and remained locked for two weeks after the school returned.

The locked car park effectively limited traffic to the front of the school causing endless hassles for parents looking to drop off their kids.

It also limited areas where parents could park if they wanted to walk their children into the school grounds.

Fortunately Mr Swann got in touch with Fraser Coast councillor Gerard O’Connell who was able to get the key to the locked car park.

Mr O’Connell said the council had closed the car park because of concerns about the access point but decided it was better to reopen the car park while a decision was made regarding access.

“Parents who wanted to escort their children, many of whom are just starting first year or prep, to classes haven’t had anywhere to park – and all that just adds to the congestion the area is already experiencing,” Mr Swann said.

The wet weather has also contributed to the traffic build-up in the area.

One mum who has experienced the traffic while dropping her children off at the school in the mornings is Hervey Bay’s Anita Gaze.

Her children normally walked to school but she drove them on Monday because of the wet weather and she described the scene as “utter pandemonium”.

She had also experienced the traffic when trying to turn out of Wide Bay Drive on to the main road to go shopping and said it once took her 20 minutes to make the turn.

“Eventually I just had to floor it and go for it.”

Yarrilee State School sits on the opposite side of the Burrum Heads-Pialba Road which means cars are coming from two different directions, trying to get back on to the main road, Mr Swann said.

One plausible solution, Mr Swann said, was for a roundabout to be placed at the intersection between the two schools – but at an estimated cost of $30 million, he understood this may not be viable.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport and Main Roads said the department would continue to work with both schools to improve safety and reduce congestion during the hectic times in the morning and afternoon.

But no funding has been allocated for either construction or upgrades in the affected area in the department’s current five-year plan.

The department has installed flashing school zone signs, the first of their kind in the Wide Bay area, along the Burrum Heads-Pialba Road.

Mr Swann said one of the upsides of the problem was that parents from both schools did co-operate with each other as they tried to get back on the Pialba-Burrum Heads Road after dropping their children off.

“People are sensible. Yarrilee and Xavier parents understand the need to get in and out quickly.”

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