Lights on the Hill convoy head from Toowoomba to Gatton (Toowoomba Bypass from New England Highway) back in September 2019.
Lights on the Hill convoy head from Toowoomba to Gatton (Toowoomba Bypass from New England Highway) back in September 2019.

QTA boss: Toowoomba Bypass great, but more projects needed

QUEENSLAND'S main trucking body is pleased with the benefits of the Toowoomba Bypass, but they believe more projects need to be completed.

CEO Gary Mahon said the bypass said the time savings for trucks are reasonable given the amount of traffic lights avoided in Toowoomba.

"A number of our fleets have done pretty good measures on time and fuel savings," he said.

"It is of a commercial benefit of using the bypass compared to using another route."

He said the price of the toll, currently $22.85 for 'heavy commercial' vehicles, breaks even with the costs saved through not going through the city.

"That was a much better price than was being speculated for some time."

But Mr Mahon said there still needs to be a reasonable way for large road trains to traverse the western corridor.

"If you bring two trailers of cattle through Toowoomba, you can take them to Gatton but you can't take them to Dinmore," he said.

Type 1 road trains, which can be up to 36.5m in length, are permitted along the Warrego Highway west of Gatton.

Type 2 road trains, which can be up to 53.5m in length, are permitted west of Roma.

Mr Mahon's concern is that road trains are not permitted between the Port of Brisbane and Gatton, creating a logistical nightmare for freight companies.

"Rather than having a through route straight from the port, we have to make up combinations and break them down again," he said.

"We're looking for decisions that allow us to use that corridor as a high productivity corridor."

According to Mr Mahon, one of the main reasons heavier vehicles can't travel east of Gatton is because of the weak Bremer River bridges at Bundamba.

"Part of it's to do with the age life of the bridge," he said.

"Bear in mind that when you come into the western side of Toowoomba, you have 140km to the port without a single traffic light."

The Queensland Trucking Association is looking for a plan for the Warrego Highway's future from the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

"Our understanding is that once they've made the decision to put them on the forward program, we can make the decision that the infrastructure is going to be replaced. We acknowledge there's plenty of investment being made about roads and infrastructure across the state."

Mr Mahon wants to see more attention given to high priority corridors to reduce the cost of shipping freight.

"It takes significantly more to take freight from Millmerran to the port than the port to Shanghai."

The Department of Transport and Main Roads has released a long-term upgrade strategy in 2012 for the future of the Warrego Highway.

But the Warrego Highway East Masterplan, which is expected to outline the future of the Dinmore to Helidon Spa stretch, is yet to be released.

A spokesman for the Department of Transport and Main Roads said light vehicle numbers have dropped on the main roads, heavy vehicle traffic has remained consistent.

"Heavy vehicle numbers remain relatively consistent on both the Toowoomba Bypass and Toowoomba Connection Road," he said.

"Before COVID-19 travel restrictions, our data showed about 5500 vehicles using the Toowoomba Bypass daily."

According to statistics from the Queensland Government in 2018, that is less than the number of vehicles that use the Oakey to Dalby stretch per day, which stands at 5781.

"The full impact of the Toowoomba Bypass on traffic volumes will be known when trends not influenced by floods, fires, or COVID-19 restrictions can be assessed," the spokesman said.


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