15 November, 2023
People power wins for a safer Biboohra road
AFTER over a decade of long conversations with the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR), people power has won the day, with the Mulligan Highway through Biboohra finally being reduced to an 80km/h zone.
Previously, the stretch of road was 100km/h, and caused major issues for Biboohra residents and visitors turning off between Bilwon Road and Petersen Road, slowing down the flow of traffic.
Being the major route for B-Double and road train trucks heading to the Cape, there have been many near misses where trucks have had to slam their brakes on to wait for a car to turn into the local primary school or shop.
Locals say it was also common to see vehicles doing well over the 100km/h speed limit.
The ultimate goal for Mareeba Shire Councillor Lenore Wyatt was to get a slip lane installed at the Bilwon Road turn-off, but when the project was put on hold by TMR due to funding, she opted for a different approach.
“I have been advocating and lobbying with TMR for quite some time now because every day when we drive this road, we see near misses, and it’s really bad,” she said.
“Changing the 100 zone to an 80 has been a passion of mine for a long time, and because I have been a part of the Traffic Advisory Committee for eight years as a councillor, I started by advocating for a slip lane.
“They told me we were going to get a slip lane, and we all know the story on the slip lane, and it’s been put on hold, but I have directed my words to them, told them we have to do something, and they have reduced the speed limit which I am so glad to see.”
The main concern for residents was the safety of students and their families turning in and out of Biboohra to drop them off at school.
Truck driver Craig Geary knows how hard it is to brake when travelling at 100km/h on that section of the highway.
Sending several letters to TMR over the past nine years, he said he is thankful to see a positive change in the safety of the growing town.
“There have been a few of us who have approached (Cr Wyatt and TMR) about the issue, and I have spoken with many residents up Bilwon Road, and none of them could understand why that bit of road was 100km/h,” he said.
“Multiple times, I have seen near misses, and because they are near misses, none of them get reported. Sometimes, you have to speak up and get something done.
“It already feels much safer, and this is the main B-double and road train route to the Cape. Huge trucks use this road … they are very big machines, so it takes a very long time to slow them down, and I know that as a truck driver myself.”
The owners of the local Biboohra shop have watched hundreds of near misses over the past 15 years as trucks, cars and caravans pull in and out of their property.
Sharon Beguely said her husband Paul had started a petition and did a report for TMR when they bought the shop several years ago to get the highway speed limit down to 80km/h.
Now that it is finally 80km/h, they are already seeing a significant impact on the traffic flow and safety.
“Some people are abiding by it, and when they see the flashing signs, they will do so more,” Sharon said.
“It makes a big difference because people are turning off everywhere around here, and trucks are coming through here every half hour, and they have to slow down.”
The next step to improve the Mulligan Highway's safety through Biboohra is installing the slip lane.