OPINION: Imperfect crossing

By: Rod Hannifey


The flaws within Toowoomba’s Second Range crossing do not do heavy vehicle drivers any favours

OPINION: Imperfect crossing
Have you driven the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing yet?

 

I offer the following comments on the Toowoomba Second Range as constructive criticism from a truck drivers’ point of view. I am not an engineer and some of my comments may well have reasons for what has been built being done that way. But again, with all the hype about this road, it will be there for well over the next 100 years and every truck that uses it will be affected.

These points are for north, or Brisbane bound travel:

1. I rang and reported a major dip at the point on the old road where the new road verges away to take the bypass. Why was this not fixed?

2. Last week at 65 tonne, I was back to just over 60 kilometres per hour up the first long (over 1 kilometre) incline towards the northbound airport exit. If this is to be the main route for most heavy vehicles, why are there not two lanes here?

3. I put in a complaint during the building period saying there was no provision for any truck rest areas. I was initially told there would be a roadtrain hook-up bay at the Warrego Highway, but this is not where any driver will want to sleep with trucks and trailers being hooked up, backed up with alarms etc. There are a number of breakdown bays but like many other such bays they are not wide enough to get safely away from traffic flow for a sleep, to change a tyre or for any other reason. There is now no signed formal truck parking for northbound traffic from near Pittsworth to Nudgee on the other side of Brisbane. How can such a new infrastructure project, designed for many heavy vehicles, completely ignore the need for rest areas?

4. Where the added (second northbound lane from the Warrego Highway) lane starts, there is no sign telling you of an added lane as would normally be used. You travel along thinking initially it is a merge lane, but it keeps going. New drivers will not move over until this becomes clear and if this is the best and newest road, why is it not signed properly?

5. Travelling through past the Mort Street overpass, not only does the road decline and then incline, there is a 90 speed limit – why? It is a four lane major freeway with excellent merge lanes, so why 90? It is even less valid in the other direction, where much of the traffic seems to leave the A2, yet again there is a decline, forcing trucks to brake unnecessarily then try to get up the hill.

6. Approaching the John French Bridge underpass there is an incline and a curve. Once you are under the bridge you see the "Steep Incline, Trucks Must Use Low Gear" sign, but by this time you are at the sign and in the decline! The way it is now, any driver on his first trip there will only learn of the steep decline when he has hit the start – and this is too late. As with the top of the Toowoomba Range, there is a warning sign, "Steep Descent Ahead". Again, it makes it harder for truck drivers to comply.

7. As you reach the end of the viaduct, you look across to your right and see the top of the next decline, yet you still have to go approximately another one kilometre to the bottom, go round a bend and then climb a steep incline to get to the point you could see. From a driver’s point the road should have gone from the top of the viaduct to the top of the next descent. Yes, there would still be room for a flat section before the next decline to split the two. This is recognised as a good thing, but for the next 100 years every truck will have to travel down then back up, wasting fuel, time, tyres and effort in both directions!

8. Yes you can see the sign for the second descent earlier, again no warning sign, however I agree, it may not be absolutely necessary here. But then in the interests of consistency, one more sign will not break the bank. The problem however, is that the decline does not start at the sign, so based on the experience at the first descent, a driver will think okay, so this is not as steep and will select a gear based on the road decline. The decline then starts seriously further down the road, forcing the driver to change down. Either put a "Steep Descent Ahead" sign where the sign is now and move the sign for Steep Descent where the real descent starts.

9. At 6 Mile Creek there is another ascent, why?

10. The road train decoupling bay at Gatton has removed one of the only safe places to stop if tired coming into Brisbane. Why were both the BP at Gatton and Caltex at Hattonvale allowed to be built with little truck parking on such a major freight route? The same applies to the outbound rest area on the Gatton bypass; it should have been split half each side. The two hour parking limit means only those companies with extra trucks and drivers can use it. An owner-driver will never be able to comply unless he pays a dog runner. With six bays (and some have said they are not big enough), what if you are the seventh roadtrain? I am led to believe this is an interim measure. If so, why wasn’t the proper decoupling bay built to be ready for the bypass being completed? 

Going south

This list is now for south or west bound travel:

1. The first 90 speed limit starts way too early. We are coming into an incline, there are no on or off ramps, it is a divided road. Why start it at the bottom of the incline? Even if it started a kilometre further on, all loaded and most empty trucks will be at 90 or below by then. Why must we slow and/or brake to comply with a speed limit part way up a hill with no other traffic issues then pull all the way up?

2. As above, when you reach the top of the first ascent, you then have a 90 limit going downhill to then start a long major ascent yet again. We are talking hundreds of thousands of trucks over the next 100 years and you have increased our costs. We should be charging you to use the road. I am sure there are some reasons, but simply as a driver, looking at the costs involved with the building and having media and hype about it being the 8th Wonder of the World, then why is it so truck unfriendly?

3. Once you reach the top, the 90 limit still applies and yet again, you travel downhill towards Mort Street. All the car traffic around me exited here and then we had to brake, then travel uphill where again the 100 limit started up the hill. There is no common sense for where the limit changes with trucks seemingly not taken into consideration

4. Approximately 2 kilometres on the downhill run to Spring Creek there is one major and three smaller dips in the road. How can this be built into a new road?

5. I did not get the full name, but the southern bridge abutment off the "Fog" overpass has already subsided or was built badly.

6. On the run to the merge with the old road, there is another dip about 500 metres before the merge.

I note in press releases that comment was sought from industry and the Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) was involved. While this is good, input must be sought from wider industry for such major projects.

Those operating locally will see it differently and those travelling interstate will possibly raise other valid issues. The Queensland Trucking Association is accepting comments and I hope others will contribute.

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