Debate over dangerous road
THE much-maligned Gladstone-Monto Rd will be firmly in the crosshairs next week when Callide MP Colin Boyce takes Shadow Minister for Transport and Main Roads Steve Minnikin on a tour of the region's roads in a semi-trailer.
While construction has been carried out to repair sections of the road damaged during Cyclone Debbie, some motorists fear it is not up to scratch.
HQ Plantations have resumed intensive use of Gladstone-Monto Rd - the preferred route for transporting timber from the Kalpowar forestry operation to the sawmills in Gladstone.
The decision was made after the completed maintenance work convinced the Department of Transport and Main Roads to declare it reopen for heavy vehicle use.
The recent state budget allocated little in the way of new funding for Callide roads, leaving Mr Boyce less than impressed.
"I want to give Steve Minnikin a first-hand experience of what it's like travelling these roads in a big truck,” Mr Boyce said.
"Obviously HQ Plantations have the right to use the road.
"But these roads were never designed for this kind of heavy traffic and there are ongoing safety concerns.”
Multiple heavy vehicle accidents have occurred along Gladstone-Monto Rd, including a fatal incident in February 2017 where a logging truck crashed through a metal guard rail and fell 40 metres to the bottom of a cliff.
Last month, another man was lucky to escape serious injury when he rolled a semi-trailer carrying a full load of timber.
While many trucks are fitted with expensive safety equipment, drivers said it was no secret that money needed to be spent to fix the roads.
"The main roads around here are a disgrace,” one truck driver said.
"The area was founded on logging and trucks have always used it.
"Gladstone-Monto Rd definitely needs upgrades, logs will be coming out of there for many years to come.”
Forestry is vital to the local economy and is one of the area's major employers.
Residents report "scary” encounters with trucks and have expressed concerns about the safety of the road, but truckies feel they have been unfairly targeted.
"It is not unsafe for trucks, it is just a road that needs to be driven with caution,” a HQ Plantations contractor said.
"It's easy to throw mud and blame truck drivers, but people driving in the middle of the road over crests don't help either.
"Especially locals who should know better.”