CONTENTIOUS ROAD: Photos of the Cunningham Highway through Cunninghams Gap from the Department of Transport and Main Roads show the damage done to the road in the past.
CONTENTIOUS ROAD: Photos of the Cunningham Highway through Cunninghams Gap from the Department of Transport and Main Roads show the damage done to the road in the past.

Frustration as $43m splurge fails to ensure Gap future

ABOUT $43,460,000 million in funding will soon arrive to fix Southern Downs roads but Warwick safety experts believe the cash could be better spend elsewhere.

Member for Maranoa David Littleproud this week announced the Maranoa region had secured the tens of millions out of a $2 billion federal road safety program.

Two local roads to reap intersection upgrades would be Cunningham Hwy between Gladfield Back Rd and Goomburra Rd worth $990,000; and Amiens Rd, Thulimbah School Rd, and Tennant Rd worth $240,000.

Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi said the funding was welcome news for ratepayers as well as the “financial sustainability” of council.

It would also be a relief to regular users of the roads, he said.

“Obviously they’ve been identified by people over time for their problems and these two are the top of the list,” he said.

“Keeping people alive is paramount and this crossing or any other crossing is welcome. No one wants to see our death toll increased.”

But that was not Cr Pennisi first choice for a revamp.

“In my opinion, the biggest issue on the Cunningham Hwy is Cunninghams Gap,” he said.

“All my life I have travelled along that road and every time I travel, there’s always something happening or something about to happen. I can’t remember a two-year period without work.

Warwick and District Road Safety Group member Graham Buchner shared similar sentiments.

Mr Buchner siad the Gap was also his biggest concern, closely followed by the Gladfield stretch near the driver reviver.

“What we’re all more concerned about is that they spend the money to make the Gap safer and more sure route to Brisbane,” he said.

“Rock falls occur every day and since they’re tunnelling everywhere else, they might as well do it there.

Cr Pennisi said without upgrades the road could lead to long-term impacts across the Southern Downs.

“At some stage it has got to be considered,” he said.

“It is the 21st century and that is restricting business.

“Whether that’s tourists, the goods that come into our region, the road is just bottlenecked and limited as a result of that.”

Just earlier this year, Member for Southern Downs James Lister said Gap upgrades would remain a main priority for 2021.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said Cunningham Highway and Amiens Rd works are required to finish by June 30 this year, supporting about 950 jobs in Queensland.



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