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25 May, 2021

TMR ‘tied’ Council's hands in Byrnes Street upgrades

SEVERAL members of the Mareeba community feel there has been little to no communication with residents over the recent controversial changes to Byrnes Street.

By Rhys Thomas

Concerned Mareeba resident Mladen Bosnic has said that it is a sorry state of affairs with lack of communication about Byrnes Street works

SEVERAL members of the Mareeba community feel there has been little to no communication with residents over the recent controversial changes to Byrnes Street. 

The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) has begun construction on the installation of new wombat crossings in the main street of Mareeba, seemingly without any consultation with residents or business owners.

The Mareeba Shire Council (MSC) Traffic Advisory Committee long advocated for changes to be done, particularly to the dangerous Post Office Centre crossing. 

After TMR agreed to upgrade the crossing they came back to MSC with plans to change the remaining existing crossings to wombat crossings, plus installing more along the street. 

Passionate community member Mladen Bosnic said he feels there has been no consultation with the community about the changes to their own main street.

“I don’t live in a vacuum, but I’ve never seen or heard of anything about the main street, it just happened,” he said.

“The lights were always talked about to some degree, but the main street is an aberration at the moment.

“With a wombat crossing people just herd there and then when they see a break in the traffic they cross.

“I don’t agree with it, I don’t agree with the way it has been done.” 

Another concerned Mareeba resident took to Facebook over the past months questioning why MSC has had no communication with its ratepayers over the works on Byrnes Street. 

“I suspect that TMR and MSC have plans to change traffic flow conditions without any public consultation,” they wrote. 

“Surely we deserve to be consulted and allowed to have some rate payer input.

“I refer to the incredible lack of contact with the public about street changes/wombat crossings and removal of car parking spaces. 

“I believe it is time for MSC to consult the ratepayer prior to making major street changes.” 

This view is shared by Mr Bosnic who believes that future decisions which impact a lot of people need more extensive consultation with the wider public. 

“It’s a sad state of affairs if there was no consultation between council’s Traffic Advisory Committee and TMR,” Mr Bosnic said.

“Did TMR ride rough shot over them, it’s sad when council can’t have a say in what happens in their own main street.

“The fact that a main street can cut through one of the major towns in the Mareeba Shire and council has no say over it whatsoever, I just find that incredible. 

“It may be TMR’s road, but it’s council’s main street.” 

Head of MSC’s Traffic Advisory Committee, Kevin Davies said that TMR ‘tied their hands’ with the main street crossing decisions. 

“We wanted better safety on the Post Office Centre crossing, so through the committee we were pushing to get something done,” Cr Davies said. 

“Main roads came back to us and said, yes we’ll do something and then they also came up with the other crossings.”

Council was then informed of TMR's decision for the upgrade of the numerous crossings on Byrnes Street but could not say yay or nay to the decision.

“Once the plans and the funding came through, that all has to come from TMR and the state member,” Cr Davies said.

“Basically we were told, ‘here’s the plans, you can’t say anything until its announced through the state member’. 

“We saw the plans and that was it, this is what your getting.” 

Cr Davies has agreed that there has been inadequate consultation between the public and the government bodies involved.

"There is nothing we can do now it is all in stone, it’s happening, the best we can do is say we will improve," he said. 

“Any statements about those works can’t come from us, it has to come from main roads – it is their project so anything we say, has to be approved by main roads. 

“All we can do is say hey this is happening… but anything that comes about the works has to come from TMR.”  

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