Fight for Eight Mile upgrade builds momentum
IT'S been one year since the last fatal crash at the Eight Mile intersection.
The deaths of Jaydon Adams and Samantha Lee Burgess prompted huge political support and commitments to have the intersection changed.
In the weeks and months that followed their deaths the Warwick and District Road Safety Group lobbied hard for change.
The possibility of an overpass and roundabouts were considered as long-term options and many short-term solutions were announced.
By December last year, the Department of Transport and Main Roads had reduced the speed limit surrounding the intersection to 60kmh - a move that was supported by the majority of the community, but made locals nervous the short-term fix would deter the government from providing any more funding.
Member for Southern Downs Lawrence Springborg said the Eight Mile wouldn't be fixed this year or next, but a solution was on its way.
"I reckon you're probably looking at three to four years, but I don't have a problem with that because it was never going to happen in 100 years before that," he said.
"The preliminary design work has been done now and separating the traffic, as in an overpass, will certainly be part of the solution.
"The design has not been finalised but it is recognised that there needs to be great separation of the traffic, because that is where there is most danger."
Mr Springborg said he was working with Member for Maranoa Bruce Scott and Transport Minister Scott Emerson to get the Eight Mile listed in the schedule of works.
"All I have ever wanted was the thing to be recognised as a priority and that there is a problem - we have now convinced them there is a problem," Mr Springborg said.
"We also have a very, very strong community desire for it as well.
"After the last tragedy people had to sit up and say, regardless of what people try to explain away, there is a problem there that can't be dismissed."
Although it has been a year since promises of a solution were made, Mr Springborg said people could feel confident work was happening behind the scenes.
"Twelve months ago it was going nowhere but now it is going somewhere," he said.
"It has just been a matter of constantly badgering the issuing and I think having a change of government has helped because the minister is very supportive of it."
Mr Springborg said the project could cost up to $30 million and the State Government's contribution was sitting in the kitty.
"Whenever the Federal Government can identify the resources, our 20 per cent is ready to go," he said.
"It is now a matter of patience while the design work is done, it is prioritised and the funding is secured by the Commonwealth."
Warwick and District Community Road Safety Group secretary and former police officer Andrew Gale said he had also had many meetings with Bruce Scott and Lawrence Springborg.
"We know there is planning in the works," he said.
"They dropped the speed limit after a lot of lobbying; we knew this wasn't a solution and we know the ultimate solution is to separate the traffic.
"I've read a lot of the comments on the Daily News Facebook site from others - a fair few refer to drivers not obeying the road rules, but all humans make mistakes."
Mr Gale said the trauma of a fatal crash rocked the whole community and especially those in emergency services.
"No one is perfect and just because someone may have driven carelessly doesn't mean they deserve to die," he said. "There's always going to be someone doing the wrong thing - we all see those court stories - the only solution at the Eight Mile is to redesign.
"I'm scared next it won't just be a couple of lives, it will be a whole bus load of kids coming back from footy - it could be anyone who gets cleaned up for whatever reason - we just need to remove the possibility of this happening."
Road Safety Group vice-president David Kemp said since the speed limit was reduced in December there had only been one minor crash.
"We've been meeting with a representative of Main Roads on a regular basis," Mr Kemp said.
"He's been very co-operative. He came and assessed the Eight Mile and agreed with a lot of things we had to say.
"There will be a few signage changes in the next few months."
Mr Kemp said the group had advised Main Roads some of the changes it would like, including widening the highway near Willowvale Rd so the turn-off to Toowoomba could be extended.
The group has also asked for turning arrows painted on the road as well as TWB and BRIS painted in each respective lane.
Mr Kemp said the group agreed with Main Roads that the second stop sign should be replaced with a give-way on the road heading from Brisbane to Allora.