BYPASS BENEFIT: Trucks like these on James St are a rarer site now the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing is open.
BYPASS BENEFIT: Trucks like these on James St are a rarer site now the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing is open. Kevin Farmer

Jury out on value of the Toowoomba Bypass

IT IS still too early to tell if the much-vaunted Toowoomba Second Range Crossing will have a bottom line pay-off for transport operators.

That's the message from South East Queensland Hauliers, one of the busiest users of the new $1.6 billion bypass which officially opened to traffic earlier this month.

SEQH was part of the ribbon-cutting fanfare where Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack called the road the "eighth wonder of the modern world” but managing director Brett Plummer told us he was reserving judgment on the road's benefit to his business.

"Check back with me in a month; for me the jury is still out,” he told Big Rigs.

Mr Plummer said he was still crunching the numbers on whether the time, fuel and maintenance savings on the TSRC would offset the $22.85 toll that will come into play after the initial three months of free use.

On a slow month his fleet's toll bill from west of Toowoomba to the Port of Brisbane was already costing SEQH $50,000, he said.

He did, however, concede he could see initial benefits of the bypass already on the score of improved safety and giving Toowoomba back to the Toowoomba people.

"Going through Toowoomba, it was a mess, but that problem is now largely removed,” he said.

Toowoomba mayor Paul Antonio told The Chronicle that about 1000 trucks a day were now expected to use the once clogged James St rather than the 3500 the city had been used to.

"Rather than being a highway as it was, I think James St will be far more user-friendly to local people than it currently is,” Cr Antonio said.

Queensland Trucking Association CEO Gary Mahon confirmed that all heavy vehicles over 4.5t (excluding motorhomes and buses) must use the Toowoomba Bypass unless drivers have a local destination in Toowoomba or need to access the New England Highway.

Type 1 road trains and Performance Based Standards Level 3A networks will be extended to the eastern side of the Gatton interchange.

A temporary short stay (two-hour) transfer facility has been developed at the Gatton interception sites on the Warrego Highway to help accommodate trailer transfers on to Brisbane.

All type 1 road trains and Performance Based Standards Level 3A combinations must conform to complying B-doubles or otherwise permitted combinations (for example, PBS A-double) before continuing travelling east of the transfer facility at Gatton.

"We are currently working closely with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator to ensure vehicles operating under existing Heavy Vehicle National Law notices or permits will be able to access the Toowoomba Bypass without having to re-apply,” Mr Mahon said.

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