Traffic heading for the Brisbane Valley Highway backs up at the Blacksoil interchange.
Traffic heading for the Brisbane Valley Highway backs up at the Blacksoil interchange.

Highway feels traffic strain

A RURAL mayor is concerned that upgrades to a rapidly deteriorating Brisbane Valley Highway will be pushed aside when changes to the federal budget are made next month.

Somerset Regional Council Mayor Graeme Lehmann is worried the major thoroughfare through the picturesque Somerset Region will deteriorate further if significant upgrades aren’t completed.

Cr Lehmann said figures obtained from Main Roads revealed almost 8500 vehicles on average used the highway each day.

The updated traffic counts, from February this year, reveal an increase of about 14% on a traffic count for the same stretch of highway to Fernvale from August 2008.

“These growth numbers are a welcome boost in terms of the marketability of Somerset Region for business development, but we need to ensure the highway can cope with the increase in traffic,” Cr Lehmann said.

A Main Roads spokesman said the department expected traffic on the Brisbane Valley Highway between the Warrego Highway at Blacksoil and Lovers Lane at Fernvale to increase by about half a per cent during the next five years.

“The State Government has committed $16 million to upgrade this vital intersection and has asked for an additional $54 million from the Federal Government. These costs have not changed,” the spokesman said.

But Cr Lehmann said this could change come May 10.

“I call on our federal representative however to note the vehicle numbers and ensure that the promised new Blacksoil interchange at the very start of the Brisbane Valley Highway is not the victim of federal budget cuts on May 10,” he said.

The Main Roads spokesman said following extensive community consultation, the department had finalised the concept design for the $70 million project.

“Next month we will start work on an $800,000 project to improve safety on a 5km section of the Brisbane Valley Highway between Toogoolawah and Harlin,” he said.

“The project is part of our Safer Roads Sooner program and includes shoulder widening, minor vegetation clearing to improve visibility at intersections, enhanced signage and line marking, and drainage improvements.”

Work is scheduled to start mid-May and finish later this year, weather permitting.



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