Concerned mother and motorist Catherine Pierce fears navigating through the sodden road from Freestone to Warwick during wet weather.
Concerned mother and motorist Catherine Pierce fears navigating through the sodden road from Freestone to Warwick during wet weather.

Rain reinforces need to fix road

CONCERNED mum Catherine Pierce is scared of having to navigate through puddles along Freestone Road each time there’s a downpour, with cars forced to straddle the centre line and avoid oncoming traffic.

The Freestone State School parent said the road was a popular shortcut to Brisbane and was again immersed in water after the rain of the past few days.

“You pray there’s no-one coming in the opposite direction when you go through a big puddle because it sends you off in another direction,” Mrs Pierce said.

“There’s the real danger of your car aquaplaning, especially when you’re on the side from Freestone to Warwick.”

Even tucked up high in her four-wheel-drive, the Freestone resident said she was concerned for her safety due the road’s poor drainage.

“If the coast is clear I will drive in the middle of the road, away from the pooled water,” she said.

“It doesn’t matter if there’s been a little shower or a storm, there’s always a lot of water which has collected on the road. When it’s wet I drive about 80kmh (20kmh below the speed limit).”

Freestone State School bus driver Alan Senior has been safely transporting children between school and home for the past two and a half years and said the road was no more dangerous when compared to others around the district.

“You have to drive to conditions and slow down when it’s wet,” Mr Senior said.

“Freestone Road is a country road but I think the gravel ones are the worst. But you do feel a pull on the steering when you go though water.”

The road from Warwick to Freestone Creek is under the responsibility of the Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR), while the stretch from Freestone Creek to the Cunningham Highway is the responsibility of the Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC).

An SDRC spokeswoman said there was no plan to upgrade the road.

“In fact, a lot of work has been done on Freestone Road over the last four to five years,” the spokeswoman said.

A DTMR spokeswoman said Freestone Road fell under the Local Roads of Regional Significance (LRRS) program.

“At this stage there are no upgrades scheduled for this road however the Regional Road Group will continue to monitor the road for consideration in future,” she said.

“The Department of Transport and Main Roads urges all road users to always put safety first during times of heavy rainfall when roads are affected by ponding and flooding.”

Meanwhile, in the depths of a pure environment, the Mandala community at North Branch near Maryvale love their quiet natural lifestyle, however after the recent rain ripped their flood bridge from the ground it has left them with no access to the outside world when the water rises.

“The bridges are really important to us to get out – they are our only access really for the whole area,” Mandala resident Kerry Sinclair told the Daily News yesterday.

North Branch Creek, which flows through the multiple occupancy community, was flooded in early February causing plenty of destruction and will now affect them each time the creek rises as it has this week.

There are six households in the community and other properties nearby who were stuck for about five days in the February flood and for a day after the rain this week.

“The flood picked up a lot of debris because it was such a wide flood and that’s what knocked out one of the bridges,” Ms Sinclair said.

Resident Tony Hetherington helped build the suspension bridges about 20 years ago and was devastated when he heard it had been washed away.

“It’s pretty sad; I didn’t want to come and see it for a few days after it happened,” Mr Hetherington said.

The bridge was 35 metres long and is estimated to be thousands of dollars to repair, although is still mostly intact despite being washed up the creek which Mr Hetherington likened to having to untangle fishing line to fix.

“We are keen to do something to get it built again as soon as possible. It’s hard to say how long it will take to rebuild but it’s going to be a big job,” he said.

Ms Sinclair said at this point it had not affected her too much as she was on leave from work and was usually prepared for being closed off from town.

“The garden is really helpful and we often have a lot of stuff in there to live off,” she said.

It was however a concern to both residents in the time of an emergency if the roads were flooded not being able to get access to the main road quickly.

Near Goondwindi, even the muscle of at least 480 horsepower under the hood couldn’t pull a B-double out of a swollen creek.

A police spokesman said the truckie ploughed through the flooded Wyaga Creek, ignoring two ‘road closed’ signs.

“The B-double went through the creek about 35km north of Goondiwindi; we got the call about 7.30pm (Tuesday),” he said.

The spokesman said the Leichhardt Highway, Gore Highway and Barwon Highway were all closed due to flooding and warned people not to test out their vehicle’s snorkel.

“It’s a timely reminder if the sign said the road’s closed, it’s closed. It’s a simple statement,” he said.

The truck driver was uninjured and has been staying in a local hotel to wait out the river rise, with his cargo of orange juice having to ferment in the truck a little while longer.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster David Bernard said the large majority of the heavy rain had now passed the Southern Downs of Granite Belt, however rain will continue today over the southern border areas near Goondiwindi.

Some morning drizzle around Stanthorpe is expected today however is expected to clear up to isolated showers.

Tomorrow will see a few showers and thunderstorms coming from the west and will move into a brief period of rain with increasing showers Saturday. Mr Bernard said the rain on Saturday would clear fairly quickly to a fine day on Sunday.

Temperatures are expected to increase towards the weekend to the mid 20s.

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