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15 June, 2021

Furor over Mareeba’s main street

MAREEBA residents have been in uproar over recent weeks as the newly installed wombat crossings in Byrnes Street continue to cause confusion, but the transport side of this dilemma has been overlooked.

By Rhys Thomas

Local truck drivers have raised concerns over the new wombat crossings in Mareeba’s main street

MAREEBA residents have been in uproar over recent weeks as the newly installed wombat crossings in Byrnes Street continue to cause confusion, but the transport side of this dilemma has been overlooked. 

While pedestrians and motorists alike are grappling with the new rules and changes to their main street, truck drivers have been grappling with the constant gear and speed changes that comes with the new raised crossings.

With Mareeba essentially being the ‘gateway to the cape’ a plethora of large transport, produce and cattle trucks make their way through the quaint main street.

Now with the new raised crossings installed, trucks must virtually slow to a standstill to drive over the crossings, this creates a deafening sound of breaks, gear changes and acceleration. 

“Before we could sit on 30km/hr comfortably through the main street in one gear causing no noise,” Owner of Mareeba Sands Ron Petersen said. 

“Now we have got to drop back into low range and slow to about 10km/hr to get over them bumps, then we have to change up a couple of gears, then back a couple of gears. 

“In the summertime when it gets hot the trucks don’t get any airflow, so we have fans that will cut in which create a whole heap of noise.” 

Mr Petersen has been driving trucks since 1985 and throughout those 36 years he has carried cargo through Byrnes Street.  

Another issue raised was the location of the wombat crossings as many are very close to intersections and roundabouts.

“If a truck has to pull up at these spots to go over these bumps, he’s blocked the whole intersection off,” he said. 

“If I am travelling south, where they put that crossing near the medical clinic, if I have to pull up because someone happens to be using it, the whole roundabout is blocked off. 

“When there is an ambulance or a firetruck or any emergency vehicle that must get off Lloyd Street or onto Walsh Street, we’ve got them blocked. 

“We understand the idea was to slow the traffic down, but this is ridiculous.” 

This raises the issue of increased the response time of emergency services trying to get in and out of the town or responding to an accident in Byrnes Street. 

Mr Petersen has asked the question whether an engineer had seen the main street and thought about these issues before deciding to install the crossings. 

“Engineers don’t talk to truck drivers,” he said. 

“They are so highly educated that they can’t talk to common people.

“I would like to know if an engineer got in a truck, went for a drive and thought about all these issues before they did anything.”

In response TMR has stated that they have done research into Byrnes Street to determine what means to use to better improve safety on the main street. 

“Our engineers have visited Byrnes Street several times to see how pedestrian safety on Byrnes Street can be improved,” a spokesman stated. 

“We have also investigated crash history, pedestrian volumes and behaviour of all road users on Byrnes Street to determine suitable treatments. 

“Motorists have right of way as the raised pedestrian facilities on Byrnes Street will not have zebra stripes painted on them.”

TMR has also revealed that Mareeba is not the only town to have wombat crossings installed on their main street as Stanthorpe, Kingaroy and Gatton all have them installed along with seven more towns.

Currently residents are still grappling with the concept of giving way to motorists and there will be an adjust period as people get used to the new rules. 

Whether the new crossings will prevent accidents and improve safety is still yet to be seen.  


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