Cyclone Debbie: road access group formed


Aftermath preparations as industry bodies release advice to operators while winds turn destructive

Cyclone Debbie: road access group formed
The BOM’s tropical cyclone forecast track map for 11am

 

The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR), Queensland Trucking Association (QTA), the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) are advising industry operators and drivers regarding the impact of category 4 Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie, which crosses the coast at around 2pm.

As of 11am, Queensland Police Service (QPS) reports live power lines down across Mackay roads and the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) that destructive winds with gusts of more than 125 km/h are occurring between Bowen and Midge Point, including Proserpine.

Recent significant BOM wind gust observations include:

  • 263 km/h at Hamilton Island airport at 10.25am
  • 139 km/h at Proserpine Airport 10.22am
  • 120 km/h at Bowen Airport at 10.41am.  

The coastal areas between Rockhampton and Townsville, west to Emerald and Charters Towers respectively, are likely to be impacted by significantly damaging winds, rain and potential flooding.

"A Flood Recovery Road Access Group (FRRAG) has been established by Transport and Main Roads (TMR) and the Queensland Police Service (QPS) to manage emergency and disaster heavy vehicle access under the provision of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL)," the TMR says in an industry advisory amplified by the QTA.

"A dedicated hotline and email address is operating from today to provide help, information and emergency access to freight consignors and heavy vehicle transport operators travelling in central and north Queensland.

"The hotline will enable operators to access specific information on alternative routes they can use. They can apply for heavy vehicle emergency permits that cannot be provided through normal processes in affected regions, or when special access is required in cases of emergency or great need."

The FRRAG hotline number is 07-3066 5511 or alternatively people can email floodrecovery_roadaccess@tmr.qld.gov.au.

The initiative was in operation after Cyclone Yasi six years ago.

The QTA notes that the emergency permit process will only apply in affected regions of Queensland, in non-affected regions the current access permit arrangements remain in place.

Those with Queensland travel planned for this week, should check the road conditions first at 131940.qld.gov.au.

"Due to the unpredictable road conditions that Cyclone Debbie may generate, TMR and QPS have restricted the movement of oversize and overmass, dangerous goods and agricultural vehicle operators within the cyclone affected area for the next 24 hours," TMR says.

"This restriction will be reassessed as needed."

Affected operations should monitor the Conditions of Operation Database.

The ATA notes that authorities are warning people in the 600km danger zone of a long day ahead, with Debbie's wide and slow moving core of destructive winds expected to take many hours to pass.

It offers the following tips for driving in storms:

  • plan the time and route of travel to avoid threatening storms
  • if you cannot avoid the storm; consider stopping
  • remember it is better to arrive late than not arrive at all!
  • be prepared for the reckless actions of other drivers
  • turn your headlights on, see and be seen
  • hold the steering wheel in both hands ready for aquaplaning
  • leave room to manoeuvre
  • drive to the prevailing conditions
  • be ready for the unexpected
  • never drive through flood waters.

NHVR executive director, access Peter Caprioli says access is likely to be an issue in coming days.

"The NHVR is advising operators to carefully monitor the situation and delay all non-essential travel to the area due to the level of unpredictability of dealing with extreme weather," Caprioli adds.

"We want to make sure that all heavy vehicle operators are taking all possible steps to be safe during this time."

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