Council made road worse: inquest

A CORONIAL inquest into the death of two people, after a three-car crash on the Bruce Highway near Childers, has revealed that the Bundaberg Regional Council went against expert advice from the state government and upgraded Lucketts Road.

Department of Transport and Main Roads corridor management and operations manager Lance Christiansen said he feared the upgrade would cause more traffic to use the notorious intersection at Lucketts Road and the Bruce Highway, where 29-year-olds Kerri Leigh McPherson and Dale Robert Welburn died on August 27, 2007.

“The upgrade was against Main Roads advice,” Mr Christiansen told the inquest.

Coroner Jennifer Batts said the council was told about the inquest, but no one attended.

Councillor Wayne Honor said there was no need for council to be there.

“A report will come from the court proceedings and engineers will be able to assess the information if they feel there is anything to be learnt,” Cr Honor said.

Ms McPherson and Mr Welburn, along with two passengers in the back seat, were travelling in a gold and silver Holden Statesman towards Childers when the car clipped a white Ford Laser attempting to turn right into Lucketts Road about 4.10pm.

The Statesman careered into the other lane of traffic, where a Subaru travelling on the highway, towards Maryborough, smashed into its side.

Mr Christiansen told the inquest that, since the fatal crash, the road was upgraded and a dedicated right-hand turning lane from the highway was constructed.

The inquest heard there were 18 crashes at the intersection since 1989 — prior to the 2007 fatal — and those crashes cost the community more than $143,000 a year in that 18-year period.

There have been no accidents since the “temporary” upgrade.

But Mr Christansen said, ultimately the road would have to be changed again, especially if more vehicles start to use the road because of work council recently completed.

“We would like to put a left-in, left-out on both ends of Lucketts Road,” Mr Christiansen said.

This means traffic will only be able to turn left from Lucketts Road onto the Bruce Highway or left from the Bruce Highway onto the road.

The inquest was told the road will be closed when the Childers by-pass is built.

Cr Honor said council had upgraded the road because an increasing amount of traffic using it due to the population boom in the area.

Ms Batts did not provide a date to hand down her findings, but said if she required council representatives to give evidence, the matter would be relisted.

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