MOTHER'S PLEA: 'This road could kill someone'
IT WAS a perfect storm of factors that very nearly lead to tragedy on Rossmore Rd at Kilkivan on May 27.
And something Liz Hutchison had been warning Gympie Regional Council about for almost a decade.
"My daughter was involved in an accident on the crossing. The car she was driving at the time is now a complete write-off and she is lucky to have escaped with the injuries she did. She was hospitalised, as was her passenger," Mrs Hutchison said.
She has been in contact with the council about the crossing, part of the Heritage Trail on the way to the Mt Clara Smelter, or "The Chimneys", since around a year after she and her husband moved to the area in 2009.
There are a number of issues with the crossing, according to Mrs Hutchison.
These include the narrowness of the road at that point, an increase in traffic, hampered visibility around the curve, flood detritus clogging the crossing, the 80km/h speed limit and what she says is the council's unwillingness to maintain the section of gravel road.
"It seems that road maintenance is not a priority for this council and patch jobs are the order of the day.
"The old adage of fix it right the first time should apply, not just lip service," she said.
Mrs Hutchison said the grass was so high around a couple of trees it obstructed the view of drivers coming up out of the crossing.
She understands why the council can't cut it, due to the presence of the trees, but suggesting the trees be removed to widen the road has been met with opposition.
"I've asked them to cut them down only to be told 'we can't because they're within 50m of a creek' and to cut them down would contravene the 1994 Vegetation Act. I know there are a list of exemptions, including if they are a public safety issue," she said.
The amount of traffic now using the road has increased from "one or two cars a day" to as many as 30 vehicles and caravans every half hour.
"They come in clumps - often just before dusk," Mrs Hutchison said.
She also said at one stage there was about 40mm of water trapped on the crossing for about 10 weeks.
After the devastating floods of 2011, Mrs Hutchison said all of the other creek crossings along the road were upgraded except for the one where her daughter had her accident.
Elle Hutchison, 26, and Nikki Bugg-Tau 18, were both taken to Gympie Hospital with whiplash and suspected back injuries after the accident.
Both women still have nightmares from the moment they encountered a 4WD ute coming the other way at the narrow stretch.
Elle is still receiving physiotherapy for her back.
"It is clear to me and other residents it is only a matter of time before someone is killed on this crossing," she said.
She said the battle with the council had left her despondent and when she told neighbours she planned to approach The Gympie Times she said "they shrugged their shoulders and wished me good luck".
"Over the years we've all had a good go at it (getting the road improved)."
A spokesman for the council said they were looking into the situation. "Gympie Regional Council is aware of the matter and investigating accordingly," he said.
"Traffic counters will be installed to determine the current speed and number of vehicles in this vicinity."