The Road Ahead : February 2011
FLOOD SPECIAL FLOOD PROOF ROADS QUEENSLAND'S FLOOD DISASTER has highlighted yet again the importance of roads as the state's transport and communication lifeblood -- and the need to make our major highways flood proof. RACQ's Traffic and Safety executive manager John Wikman said the disaster reinforced that good roads were vital all year round and deserved appropriate funding. "Roads need to be rebuilt to a standard where they are not as susceptible to flooding and damage in future events, especially major highways such as the Bruce, Warrego, Capricorn, Flinders and Cunningham," Mr Wikman said. RACQ is working with the Department of Main Roads to prioritise road repairs and come up with a restoration timeframe for affected roads. The short term effort will focus on fixing surface problems such as potholes, washouts, pavement failures and strengthening road shoulders, stabilising embankments and reinstalling guardrails. But according to Mr Wikman, the work must not end there. "We should never forget the extent of this damage," he said. "The best way to minimise disruption in the future is to have an ongoing commitment to investing in building and maintaining a high standard network of local, state and national roads, not just over the next six to 12 months, but over the next 10 to 20 years." 'Unprecedented' damage The damage to Queensland's road network will be one of many lingering legacies of the flood disaster, as the recovery and repair of ravaged roads begins. As the rain fell and flood waters started taking over the state, the road network was drowning, leaving towns isolated and vital freight routes severed. At the height of the flooding, some 75 percent of the state was declared a disaster zone with more than 155 roads, including 14 highways, cut by flood waters. As the waters receded, what was revealed was a level of unprecedented damage to the road network that the Department of Main Roads now has the mammoth task of repairing and rebuilding. By January 14, 70 percent of the roads cut by the floods had been reopened with only two of the 14 highways severed remaining closed in part. But the repair and rehabilitation of the network has just begun, with the full extent of the damage to Queensland's road network still unknown at the time of print. STORY BELINDA PETERS call to make major roads more flood proof PHOTO: FLOOD WATERS CUT THE BRUCE HIGHWAY AT GYMPIE. THE ROAD AHEAD FLOOD SPECIAL 2011 8 d t d'd NEWSPIX N DRIVE SAFE While the majority of roads are now reopened, repairs on these roads are still being carried out, so motorists driving on roads that have been flooded are urged to drive to the conditions and abide by temporary road signs such as lower speed zones, detours, and reduced weight limits. Also keep an eye out for livestock on the roads. Thousands of kilometres of fences have been flattened or washed away, and it will take considerable time for all fences to be reinstated. Drive slowly and carefully and reconsider travelling at night when it's more difficult to see animals that may have wandered on to the road.