Commonwealth Games right lane ban likely to be permanent

By: Rob McKay, Photography by: Greg Bush


The Queensland Government appears to be using next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games as an excuse to confine trucks to the two left-hand lanes between Brisbane and the glitter strip on a permanent basis.

Commonwealth Games right lane ban likely to be permanent
A section of the four-lane highway between Brisbane the Gold Coast, where trucks will be restricted to the two left-hand lanes from August 2017.

 

What started as an exercise in what it assumed was positive industry and government engagement has led to a disappointing outcome for the Queensland Transport Association (QTA).

The state industry body had been involved very early in discussions on ways to avoid traffic and transit issues on the M1 during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games next year.

This led to temporary measures being announced to improve traffic flow on the M1, including restricting trucks over 4.5 tonnes to the two left lanes from the M1/M3 merge at Eight Mile Plains to Nerang-Broadbeach Road, from this August onwards.

This is despite the Commonwealth Games not commencing until April 4 next year.

"We have been working with peak bodies including the RACQ and Queensland Trucking Association and we are confident we can improve the safety and journey time reliability for motorists travelling on the M1 between Brisbane and the Gold Coast during the Games," Quensland Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey says.

But it appears the devil was in details QTA CEO Gary Mahon says were not part of the thrust of consultations.

"Minister Mark Bailey specifically noted that this measure, along with temporary speed reductions, are for the purpose of reducing congestion, maximising capacity and improving the reliability of the M1 during the games."

Mahon says the QTA were consulted and generally agreeable, but he now understands that the restriction of trucks to the two left lanes of the mostly four-lane highway is likely to be continued beyond the Commonwealth Games' closing date of April 15, 2018.

"However, what was never raised was the application of both a fine and loss of three demerit points as a consequence of this plan," Mahon says.

"This initiative was raised in a spirit of co-operation, and the prospect of a driver losing their licence because they may find themselves in the right lane of a multi-lane corridor is entirely unreasonable.

"A fine perhaps but no correlation is able to be made that there is a direct implication for safety.

"This is a congestion measure and warrants support but not unreasonable and unfair penalties," Mahon says.

For its part, Bailey’s office says the mechanism for banning trucks from the right lanes was an extension of the rule that covers ‘no trucks’ signs, which involves a fine and three demerit points.

This was deemed easier and less time-consuming than getting an amendment through state parliament.

Bailey himself insists the law is the law but has offered further talks on the issue.

"Road rules have to be consistent," he says.

"I am happy to meet with QTA to discuss their concerns and an appropriate phase in of the new measures."

Other moves related to the Commonwealth Games include:

  • allowing vehicles carrying athletes and officials under police escort to travel along the hard shoulder of a section of the M1 from Smith St to Hope Island at low speed if there is congestion that may prevent them from arriving at an event on time
  • reducing the speed in the 100km/h zone by 10km/h to 90km/h from the M1/M3 merge at Eight Mile Plains to Logan Motorway interchange
  • reducing the speed in the 110km/h speed zone by 10km/h to 100km/h from the Logan Motorway Interchange to Smith Street (Exit 66)
  • temporary ramp management at the south bound Gold Coast Highway and Smith Street on-ramps.
  • additional Traffic Response Units and towing vehicles to ensure incidents are cleared as quickly as possible.

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