AUSTRALIA'S new Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack was in Gympie this week to meet with Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien at the start of the final leg of the Bruce Hwy bypass, construction of which is still at least three years off.
Mr McCormack, also the nation's new Infrastructure and Transport Minister, could hold the key to success in the push by this newspaper and Mr O'Brien to fast-track that construction, though he was playing his cards close to this chest during a visit to the site yesterday and The Gympie Times on Thursday.
Later this month Mr O'Brien will have a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the same issue - getting the $800,000 in Federal money needed to build that final 26km Section D of the Cooroy to Curra bypass.
The front page of today's Gympie Times is a tragic illustration of just some of the many cases of road trauma and its direct victims that have occurred on the Bruce Highway between Gympie and Maryborough in the last two years.
There are other reasons - though none so compelling as the human toll - that Section D should receive the funding it needs ahead of any other major infrastructure project currently mooted for Australia.
And with the Deputy Prime Minister in town, Mr O'Brien was not the only one to roll out his best sales pitch for Section D.
Mother nature joined in, saving one of the biggest torrents of this week's intermittent rain for when Mr McCormack was taken for a trip on the highway.
"I just drove on it in pretty wet conditions, so I guess I've seen the road at its worst," he said.
"Well done to the weather gods for actually turning it on so that I could see it when it was at its most treacherous."
Mr McCormack said the importance of finishing the final piece of the Cooroy to Curra bypass could not be denied.
"We need to do it for the sake of congestion, we need to do it for the sake of that corridor of commerce.
"But also obviously first and foremost for safety," he said.
"It would complete that necessary, and some might argue, overdue duplication of the Bruce."
And the overdue fees on the project would only get worse on a stretch which now carries 25,000 cars a day, Mr O'Brien said.
"It is our main corridor," he siad.
"The Gympie Times has been campaigning on the Bruce Highway forever, back when Coles Creek... was the most deadly section of road."
"If you've been in Gympie for more than 10 or 15 years, you'll know a family or you will know of someone... who has been killed on the Bruce Highway."
He said to do nothing would be to leave a permanent stain on the region's reputation.
"Unless we get about it, (Gympie) will be the end of the road and this will continue to be the start of the death zone," Mr O'Brien said.
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