Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) has just completed an investigation into the section between Quanda and Toolborough Roads following a request earlier this year by State Speaker and Member for Maroochydore, Fiona Simpson.
The area in question has been the scene of many road crashes over the past few years; and the subject of intermittent calls by emergency services, councillors and the public to install guardrails along its steep edges or widen the shoulder.
The death of a 62-years-old woman along the stretch in 2007 sparked urgent talks between Noosa MP Glen Elmes, then Maroochy Shire Councillor Bruce Dunne and CEO John Knaggs.
Mr Elmes, whose electoral boundaries have since changed, lead a spirited push for State Government to address the safety issues; taking his concerns to then transport Minister Paul Lucas with the backing of Maroochy Shire Council.
“The concern with that stretch of Yandina-Coolum Road is the drop off on either side. There has been talk of fencing or barriers along there for many years,” Mr Elmes said at the time.
Ex-councillor Bruce Dunne, a long term Coolum resident, voiced his continuing concerns earlier this year during the Division 9 election campaign, labelling the stretch of road from the Sunshine Motorway roundabout to Arcoona Road as one of the most dangerous sections of road of any main arterial highway in Queensland.
“There is virtually no shoulder; and a deep, water-laden drain on either side. If a vehicle has a breakdown, flat tyre, whatever; there is absolutely nowhere to pull over except to go into the drain,” Mr Dunne said.
“That danger is compounded by the huge number of large trucks that thunder along the road.”
It was in fact a truck ending up nose first in the deep drain in April that reignited calls for the road to be upgraded, with MP Fiona Simpson taking her concerns to Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Scott Emerson.
Investigations undertaken by TMR included a speed limit review and the possible installation of guardrails along the road’s edge.
“In relation to the speed limit review of this section of Yandina-Coolum Road, I am advised that the review considered many factors including road function, traffic speeds, speed environment and crash history,” Mr Emerson reported.
“The Sunshine Coast Speed Management Committee, which comprises representatives from TMR, Queensland Police Service and Sunshine Coast Council, has endorsed TMR’s recommendation to retain the 100km/h speed limit.”
An investigation into the possible installation of guardrails along the road was made using TMR’s Road Planning and Design Manual, which consists of three parts:
- The identification of possible roadside hazards (e.g.: trees, power poles, embankment types, water hazards)
- Evaluation of potential roadside hazards (consideration of factors such as road type, curvature and grade, surrounding road environment, traffic volumes, speed and crash history).
- Prioritisation of hazard reduction treatments.
Recorded data suggests that 18 crashes have occurred along the stretch since 2005, but it is thought that the data may not include crashes outside of the ‘Quanda Road to Toolborough Road’ area, where more than one fatality has occurred.
As a result of the investigation into the need for guardrails, the Minister advised that TMR has instead decided to increase the number of road edge guideposts to improve safety and delineation where the roadside embankment is steep.
“TMR advises that costly works to widen the shoulder and to install barrier treatments would need to compete for funding against other priority works across the region,” Mr Emerson stated.
The safety review results come on top of the Minister’s recent allocation of funding to commence planning for road safety improvements on the Sunshine Motorway between Mooloolaba and Peregian.
Safety measures will include centre median treatments, reduced lane width and a reduced speed limit as part of the Safer Roads Sooner Program.
MP Fiona Simpson was pleased the new Transport Minister had listened to her request and said the audible tactile line markings, together with wider painted chevrons and the lower speed limit would help save lives.
“Ultimately the answer will be a major road duplication but in the meantime, a relatively simple upgrade with “rumble strips” and wider marked separation between the two carriageways and a lower speed limit will dramatically improve driver compliance,” Ms Simpson said.
The Queensland Government is also investing almost $1 million to repair the pavement on the Sunshine Motorway at Coolum.
Temporary repairs to the section resulted in a lowered speed limit during the past few months, but completion of the works got underway this week and will restore the road to its 100km/h speed limit.
Motorists are advised that surface replacement work on the Sunshine Motorway between West Coolum Road and the Yandina-Coolum Road roundabout, to be carried out between 7pm and 5.30am, will be completed in approximately three weeks.
For up-to-date information on traffic disruptions please visit www.131940.qld.gov.au or phone 13 19 40.