AN extra $6 million has been allocated to safety improvement upgrades on Steve Irwin Way between Beerwah and Landsborough to fund new traffic lights at the Fraser Road Australia Zoo entrance, taking the total funding to $24 million.
Planning has been completed and details of the upgrade works released showing lane widening, new culverts, new lighting, additional vegetation clearing and now a set of traffic lights.
The project is being funding by both the federal and state governments on an 80:20 split basis.
Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the project would reduce the risk of crashes along the high-volume road, which carries more than 11,000 vehicles a day.
Road widening would accommodate the intersection modifications as well as enable marking of wide centre lines to provide further separation between opposing traffic.
Member for Caloundra Jason Hunt said the new signals and three dedicated right-turn lanes included in the design between Beerwah and Landsborough would improve safety by making it easier to turn at intersections.
“Wider shoulders will be installed, giving drivers additional areas to pull over, assisting emergency vehicles and wide vehicles, and providing greater separation between cars and bike riders,” Mr Hunt said.
“At 2m wide and marked with bike symbols, the road shoulders improve safety for riders and all intersections will be marked with dedicated bike lanes at conflict points.”
Construction is expected to start in November, weather and construction scheduling permitting.
Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace said the traffic signals on Steve Irwin Way were funded as part of the commitment to provide economic stimulus to support Queensland infrastructure and jobs.
Why $6 million lights at the zoo?
IN response to the recent GC&M News online news story about an extra $6 million allocated for traffic lights at the entrance to Australia Zoo, some locals questioned the decision.
A TMR spokesperson told GC&M News that Transport and Main Roads (TMR) had requested funding for signals to improve safety at the Steve Irwin Way and Fraser Road intersection due to its high crash history.
“Since 2017, TMR has undertaken investigations into crash history, traffic volumes and the road environment to confirm this intersection requires safety treatments and to determine an appropriate design,” the spokesperson said.
The accident history at the intersection appears to be a significant factor in the decision.
“There were six crashes at the intersection between 2013 and 2020,” the spokesperson said.
“In addition to a fatality in 2017, there were also crashes that involved hospitalisation and medical treatment.
“Steve Irwin Way is a busy road used by an average of 11,500 vehicles daily and there can be limited opportunities and insufficient gaps to make safe turns.
“The Fraser Road intersection has a high turning volume and a higher concentration of tourist traffic.
“Signals will reduce the crash risk by controlling turning movements and will also assist to manage traffic flow during peak periods.”
TMR submitted a proposal for the new traffic lights to the jointly funded Australian Road Safety Program, resulting in the Steve Irwin Way safety improvement project funding jumping from $18 million to $24 million in total.