NatRoad wants funds for Eton Range

NatRoad's submission to Infrastructure Australia will call for urgent action on the Eton Range to reduce heavy vehicle accidents

By Brad Gardner

NatRoad will push for funding of a critical B-double route in northern Queensland when it makes a submission to Infrastructure Australia.

NatRoad Chief Executive Bernie Belacic says urgent action needs to be taken on the Eton Range, which is responsible for a significant number of heavy vehicle accidents due to the poor state of the road network.

Belacic says it is a notorious stretch or road, made even more hazardous when it rains because B-doubles carrying fuel to mine sites are losing traction and sliding backwards, while some trucks jack-knife near the cliff face.

NatRoad’s submission will call for road realignment as well as a bypass at Walkerston to cope with the boom in truck movements as a result of new mines being constructed in the area.

"It is a real big problem," Belacic says.

"It has got to be a priority, not just for productivity but for safety as well."

Queensland road lobby groups have long called for action on the issue as it creates enormous productivity issues if it closes due to truck accidents.

Drivers are forced to use the Sarina Range if access is blocked to Eton Range, which adds more to trip times because of B-double restrictions and the length of the journey.

Belacic has criticised a lack of action on fixing the problem, saying the Queensland and Federal governments need to move now to reduce the rate of accidents and to ensure the road is capable of sustaining the increase in truck movements that will come with the establishment of 33 new mine sites.

The Rudd Government has agreed to fund a planning study, but Belacic wants a firm commitment backed up with adequate funds to ensure the realignment and bypass become a reality.

"You need to do more than look, you need to commit," he says.

The Rudd Government has announced a number of multi-million dollar projects for Queensland roads but so far no financial commitment has been made to bankroll upgrades on the Eton Range.

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