Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Barnaby Sees Death Zone Dep PM Makes Gympie Detour, Pledges Action

Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Barnaby Sees Death Zone Dep PM Makes Gympie Detour, Pledges Action

Article excerpt

ARTHUR GORRIE

Senior journalist

arthur.gorrie@gympietimes.com

"ONE small mistake and you're dead," Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said as he inspected Gympie's lethal highway link to the north.

"That's what you realise when you drive on these regional roads," he said.

Mr Joyce, who is also the new federal Transport Minister, met Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien, highway-side at Chatsworth yesterday.

They stood a bare 50m from the spot where a 21-year-old Maryborough man died on New Year's Day.

Investigating police believe the man's vehicle crossed double white lines into the path of an oncoming van carrying a family of five.

They were treated at the scene, taken to Gympie Hospital and later released.

The man's death was the latest of at least 29 fatalities between Gympie and Torbanlea in the past 15 years.

None of them would have happened on a four-lane divided highway, such as the one soon to be extended past Gympie to the east.

It will rejoin the existing highway route near Gunalda and Mr Joyce could not say when work would start on extending that standard of motorway further north.

It is expected construction of the Gympie bypass section will take at least two years, with a start on the project within the next few months.

Mr Joyce said he was still learning his new job and was on the return leg of an east coast tour intended to give him some pre-employment education as Minister.

He had already seen too many regional roads carrying urban traffic concentrations.

He said he also had to move fast on two other dangerous stretches of highway at Coffs Harbour and in southern New South Wales.

But he wanted to get big improvements here as well.

He had found one section of highway where the congestion was so bad people had just stopped.

"It just scares people," he said. …

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