OPEN ROAD: Another stretch of greatly improved Bruce Hwy is now open, near Cooroy.
OPEN ROAD: Another stretch of greatly improved Bruce Hwy is now open, near Cooroy. Alistair Brightman

Highway progress speeds up

THE State Government has been uncharacteristically quiet about new progress on the Cooroy to Curra rebuilding of what once was one of the most dangerous stretches of national highway in Australia.

Things have improved a lot since the start of the century, when the Bruce Hwy began to account for far more than its share of death, disability and injury per kilometre.

Some historical aspects of the story which led us to the optimistic position we are in today are well known.

Others are a road less travelled.

Campaigns by organisations like the Gympie Times and the RACQ, along with individuals like Gympie ambulance chief Wayne Sachs and Facebook campaigner Anthony Heffernan helped convince governments at State and Federal level that something had to be done.

This week, a southern section of the highway near Cooroy upgrade project opened for use, bringing to an end some of the frustrating 70kmh and 80kmh speed zones which applied during construction.

Since Mr Heffernan started his Facebook site in 2009, we have seen big progress.

Most importantly, we have seen a lot less work for coroners, undertakers, ambulance drivers, Queensland Fire and Emergency Service crews.

And we have seen a lot less grieving.

We will never know how many of us and how many of our family members are still alive because of the road improvements.

Over the years, many have pointed out that the highway was in good condition and that deaths all resulted from driver error.

But the driver making the error was not always the one killed and the death toll was not confined to drivers.

Now we are seeing the emergency of a divided highway where high speed can be combined with a degree of safety that means not all driver errors are fatal or near fatal.

Upgrading of the city's southern entry at Six Mile is also guaranteed to improve safety, though possibly with some inconvenience.

RACQ executive John Wikman said in 2011: "They've reduced the speed to 90kmh and we can understand why, but it definitely needs to be duplicated - and soon rather than later."

Agitation

Anthony Heffernan launches Facebook safety site in 2009.

Courts probe highway role in crashes a month later.

State starts early safety probe in June 2011.

Real action begins in September 2011.