Regional roads fuel 'economic wasteland'

ROADS IGNORED: Smithfield Feedlot owner Barb Madden said the State and Federal governments should start to prioritise regional roads.
ROADS IGNORED: Smithfield Feedlot owner Barb Madden said the State and Federal governments should start to prioritise regional roads. Contributed

A MAJOR cattle feedlot in the South Burnett has condemned the state of road infrastructure, with the issue severely affecting the region's ability to advance its agricultural development.

Proston's Smithfield Feedlot co-owner Barb Madden said her family had advocated for improved roads for the past 20 years as it became clear road infrastructure had not kept up with fast-evolving transportation technology.

Smithfield currently takes the majority of its cattle from Rockhampton, Roma and Dalby, and receives an estimated 90,000 tonnes of grain each year by way of a 19-metre B-double route.

Ms Madden said the current roads did not meet the demands of the major agricultural operations and the region would become an "economic wasteland" if the issue remained ignored.

Smithfield employs more than 40 staff and injects millions of dollars into the economy each year.

"The access from Durong to Proston is mostly a single lane road, so we have road trains having to uncouple about 45km away," Ms Madden said.

"As a result of that, there's gross inefficiencies for the transport provider and for us because we're having to pay that freight."

Ms Madden said an upgrade to a 25-metre B-double access would deliver vast improvements.

"We've constantly been told there's no money but the government has fixed roads to the north of us and it's a major issue," she said.

"I think it's something they need to start prioritising in regional areas because the infrastructure is not keeping up to speed with the necessary technology we're now using."

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An announcement from the Department of Transport and Main Roads earlier this week detailed a $1.5 million improvement to the Kingaroy-Barkers Creek and Clark and Swendson roads as part of a larger project to accommodate B-double operations.

Both the North and South Burnett regional councils have expressed concern at the difficulty heavy transport has had in accessing roads.

South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell said the issue had a significant impact on existing businesses as well as attracting new business.

A spokesperson from the Department of TMR said there were currently no projects identified in the current Queensland Transport and Roads Investment Program to upgrade the region's roads for multi-combination vehicle use, but regular inspections were undertaken.

"Transport and Main Roads is committed to balancing the needs of the freight industry and regional growth with impacts of heavy vehicles on the road network and the community, to ensure the ongoing safety of all road users," the spokesperson said.

"Road trains and similar multi-combination vehicles are not suited to all roads, particularly urban areas, and therefore are limited in where they can operate.

"Many parts of the state-controlled road network were not designed for the high loadings that modern vehicles can carry. In the South Burnett, significant upgrades would be required to meet current standards to allow multi-combination vehicle use."

South Burnett

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