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26 May, 2022

Plans afoot for avenue & bridge traffic

A PETITION from residents calling for the load limit on John Doyle Bridge to be lowered to reduce the number of heavy trucks using Anzac Avenue and the bridge has prompted a review of the route by Mareeba Shire Council but no commitment to reduce the load limit.

By Robyn Holmes

A petition from more than 95 residents presented to council last September accused the council of not properly consulting the community before lifting the 5-tonne load limit on the bridge to 44 tonnes and expressed grave concerns for residents and children using the area due to the increased use in “heavy and oversized” vehicles. 

“We ask that council considers the tranquillity and wellbeing that we, the residents once treasured and place measures to control the amount of traffic flow by lowering the vehicle load limit to 20 tonnes, culling the access of heavy and oversized vehicles,” the petition read. “Only this course of action will result in lowering the noise pollution, reduce traffic and hazardous vehicles.” 

The petition triggered a high-level review of the Anzac Avenue route (Kennedy Highway to Constance Street) which was undertaken by an independent engineering consultant. The review took into account traffic movements, speed and the approaches to the bridge and resulted in a recommendation that council undertake a local traffic management program for the Anzac Avenue and Herberton Street areas. 

A report to last week’s council meeting noted that due to the structural limitations of the old bridge, only light vehicles were allowed to use it for 20 years. With the John Doyle bridge refurbished in late 2020, load restrictions were lifted, which resulted in the return of heavy vehicles utilising the route. In addition, the installation of “wombat crossings” in Byrnes Street had resulted in traffic, including heavy vehicles, opting to use Anzac Avenue/ Herberton Street in favour of the state-controlled route. 

“The route has experienced an increase in vehicles utilising the link between mid-2019 and mid-2021, however that increase is almost exclusively associated with the ‘Heavy Vehicle’ categories,” the report said. “In some categories, whilst the actual numbers of heavy vehicles is not high (16.5 per cent of the total), the relative percentage increase is significant (280 per cent).” 

The report noted that in order to provide potential improvements to residents through reduced traffic noise and local congestion, restrictions on some classifications of heavy vehicles in conjunction with “route treatments” along both Anzac Avenue and Herberton Street could be considered. 

Suggested treatments that may have a positive impact on safety and amenity include landscaping entry points to restrict vehicle speeds; restricted entry points to Herberton Street and Anzac Avenue; sign posting and line-marking to improve delineation around bends; local traffic treatments to minimise speeds, and safety treatment at the intersection of Constance Street and Herberton Street. 

Council also considered that planned works by the Department of Transport and Main Roads at the intersection of the Kennedy Highway and the Connection Road would also impact upon the area, forcing traffic to take the Anzac Ave route into the town. 

As such, council will not act on any of the recommendations from the review until these works are completed. Council will then examine options for intersection treatments and route treatment, develop design plans and ensure that a comprehensive community consultation process is undertaken before works commence.

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