Waiting for road disaster
TRUCK drivers have joined a list of concerned residents in Toowoomba saying traffic lights at the top of the Toowoomba Range will result in a traffic nightmare and maybe even death.
At a protest meeting last Friday night hundreds of people packed St Luke's Church in Toowoomba.
They were concerned that big rigs pulling loads up to 300 tonnes used the range regularly and the lights, which are planned for Herries St as you turn left at the top of the range (a major supply route) could easily see traffic banked back onto the range.
Truck driver and Johnson's Livestock Transport owner George Johnson spoke to Big Rigs before the meeting and said it was a safety issue.
"I used to live next to the spot. Anything could happen. The Transport and Main Roads fella (who set the lights as a condition) obviously hasn't had a look at it," he said.
"The last thing we need in Toowoomba is more lights."
Mr Johnson said he stepped out the distance from where the lights would be to the range and found it would only take three B-doubles before traffic was stopped on the hill.
Which would be disastrous for one of Heavy Haulage Australia's loads.
Toowoomba depot manager Dave Pancino said if one of the big loads were stopped on the hill waiting for the lights it wouldn't get moving again.
"I think it will be a disaster.
"Whether it's a heavy load or a fully loaded B-double carrying stock they are going to struggle.
"It's going to be horrendous.
"You won't lift 300tonne off that hill when the load is still half way down the hill," he said.
"Road trains, they're going to struggle in the wet. I don't know what the solution is but it's not lights."
Toowoomba Resident Merryl Jamieson said she thought it was a "crazy idea".
"It will be Toowoomba's eighth McDonalds, there's a major shopping centre within a block and they will be resuming seven beautiful old homes and 93 trees and put in a set of lights," she said. "Who in their right mind would put a set of lights on the hill?" Mrs Jamieson said it would be hard for trucks to take off on the hill in a heavy mist with a bit of moisture on the road and Mr Johnson agreed.
TWU flooded with complaints
PROTEST meeting organiser Kate Powell said she could foresee lights at the top of the Toowoomba range would cause accidents and even deaths.
She said that would be one issue that would help form an appeal to the Planning and Environment Court.
Her sentiments were mirrored by Transport Worker's Union Queensland State Secretary Peter Biagini.
He was at the meeting along with four other TWU delegates speaking on behalf of members who had flooded his office with phone calls about how lights would negatively impact them.
Mr Biagini said there were a lot of concerns about traffic flows up and down the range and the safety of traffic lights.
He said many trucks with 80tonne or more loads used the range and having to stop on the slope or at the top would not give the trucks any time to recover from the work of driving up the hill, so their disc oil and turbos would be so hot that pulling up before taking off again would put stress on the drive train.
The protest meeting was against the Toowoomba region council's approval for a Material Change of Use for a food outlet (café/restaurant and convenience restaurant), shop and supermarket, as well as operational works for advertising signage for the development.
It is proposed the centre at 9-17 Herries St and 1 Cohoe St include a 24-hour McDonalds store, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, mini supermarket and other cafes and restaurants.