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Darling Downs region

The Darling Downs District covers an area of 79,530km2 and is home to around 5.78% of Queensland’s total population. It extends from Wandoan in the north and south to the New South Wales border, and from Hatton Vale in the east to Dulacca in the west. Recognised as Australia’s second-largest agricultural production area and across Australia as ‘salad bowl country’, delivering fruit and vegetables, cotton, viticulture, poultry, beef and dairy cattle. The region has 4,533km of state-controlled roads and 687km of the National Land Transport Network.

Regional facts

Darling downs district map 
Darling downs district Qld 
Area covered

79,530km2

Population of Queensland

5.78%

Data source: Queensland Government Statistician's Office (Queensland Treasury), Queensland Regional Profiles www.qgso.qld.gov.au (retrieved 16 May 2019)

4,533km

State-controlled roads**

687km

National Land Transport Network**

324,934

Vehicle and machinery inspections

7

Boating infrastructures

50

Community safety events held

14,774

Vehicle safety inspections completed

225

Bridges*

8,489

Drivers licence tests conducted

239,945

Customer face-to-face interaction

113

Priority enabled intersection

Data source: *Bridge Information System (BIS), 30 June 2019
Data source: **A Road Management Information System (ARMIS), 2019

Highlights

  • Completed construction and opened the western half of the $1.606 billion1 Toowoomba Second Range Crossing.
  • Completed construction on the $8.5 million2 Stanthorpe Southern Roundabout.
  • Commenced construction work on $19 million3 Chinchilla Open Level Crossing Upgrade and Colamba Street Signals.
  • Continued multiple works on the Warrego Highway Upgrade project.
  • Managed and delivered oversized wind turbine loads to Coopers Gap Wind Farm.

Stanthorpe Southern Roundabout

The traffic crash history of a Southern Downs intersection was the primary reason why $8.5 million in Targeted Road Safety Program funding was allocated to build a roundabout at the southern intersection of the New England Highway and Stanthorpe Connection Road.

Construction was completed in June 2019, making it safer for motorists entering and exiting the highway.

Coopers Gap Wind Farm

Coopers Gap Wind Farm is located approximately 250km west of Brisbane and once fully operational will annually produce approximately 1.5 megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable energy. The energy produced from the 123 turbines will be sufficient to power more than 260,000 average Australian homes when fully operational.

The Coopers Gap transportation task involves moving over 1,200 oversized loads from the Port of Brisbane through Toowoomba to the Coopers Gap Wind Farm site. Once loaded for transport, the turbine blades are around 80m in length.

TMR and the transport operator have been faced with numerous challenges during this transportation task such, particularly because of the length of the load, as travel restrictions for roadworks, turning movements at intersections, closure to parts of the Toowoomba range and restrictions on heavy vehicle travel times.

TMR actively leads consultation activities, reviews transport management plans, and negotiates alternative routes with road owners and local governments. TMR, through system enhancements, has also introduced project specific access permits, which allows multiple vehicles and towing units to be listed on permits greatly reducing the number of permits required.

Chinchilla Open Level Crossing

Safety improvement work began in May 2019 at the Chinchilla Open Level Crossing, Warrego Highway and Colamba Street Signals $19 million project. The project is being delivered as part of the Warrego Highway Upgrade Program jointly funded by the Australian Government and Queensland Government.

The open level crossing upgrade is designed to improve road safety and provide greater freight efficiency by reducing traffic conflicts where it meets the Warrego Highway with signalised boom gates and lighting. Traffic signals will also be installed at the Colamba Street intersection with the Warrego Highway in Chinchilla, improving access, safety and efficiency.

These works will provide safer access to business and residential properties adjoining the highway through Chinchilla. Work is expected to be completed in February 2020.

Case study

Koala preservation

The department is committed to the management of biodiversity practices and to minimising the impact of its operations. Recent work on the Warrego Highway at Oakey highlights the great outcomes that can be achieved for researchers and the community when the assessment and management of departmental works impacting koalas is undertaken collaboratively by all stakeholders.

At this site, rather than using ecologists to identify koalas, specially trained sniffer dogs were deployed, armed with special boots that allowed them to walk safely over the difficult ground conditions. The method, developed through TMR-sponsored research using sniffer dogs, proved that dogs are superior to humans in locating koalas. This enabled the local community, local government and TMR to accurately quantify the real impact of the project on the local koala population and the value of the koala population to the community. The method also enabled ecologists to focus on koala health and this population was identified as extremely healthy with no evidence of disease; a condition extremely rare in most urbanised koala populations.

Consequently, an investigation by the University of the Sunshine Coast on the genetics of the populations was undertaken which identified that although the koala population was small it was genetically diverse. Genetic analysis of scat material also allowed the team to identify koala high and low use areas within the study area so clearing could be eliminated or minimised in those areas.

Toowoomba Second Range Crossing

The western half of the $1.606 billion Toowoomba Second Range Crossing was completed and opened to traffic on 8 December 2018. This 24km long section provides road users with a host of new connections between key destinations including the Toowoomba central business district and Wellcamp Airport. It additionally provides access via the:

  • Gore Highway interchange, Athol
  • Toowoomba-Cecil Plains Road interchange, Wellcamp
  • Warrego Highway western interchange, Charlton
  • Boundary Street, Gowrie Junction
  • Mort Street interchange, Cranley.

Key features of this section include:

  • 4 lanes (2 lanes each way) between Cranley and Charlton, a distance of 9kms
  • 2 lanes (1 each way) between Charlton and Athol, a distance of 15km
  • grade-separated interchanges at Cranley, Charlton, Wellcamp and Athol
  • access to the Nass Road truck stop and decoupling pad at Charlton
  • a grade-separated connection to Boundary Street.
  • sections of centre line widening to reduce the risk of head-on crashes.

Works are continuing, and it is expected the remaining section of the road will be opened later in 2019.

Aerial view of the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing

Aerial view of the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing.

Future priorities

  • Continue $6.4 million intersection improvements on New England Highway (Yarraman - Toowoomba) at Ruthven Street and North Street in Toowoomba.
  • Continue construction of the $6.4 million4 West Creek culvert upgrade on the Warrego Highway (Toowoomba – Dalby) in Toowoomba.
  • Complete upgrading the $9.3 million4 Emu Creek Bridge on New England Highway (Yarraman – Toowoomba).
  • Commence $6.7 million4 bridge replacement works at One Arm Man Creek Bridge on Jackson–Wandoan Road.
  • Commence a $10.7 million strengthening and widening project on New England Highway (Yarraman –Toowoomba).
  • Continue planning a $19.4 million2 package of safety works on the New England Highway between Warwick and Wallangarra.

References

  • 1 This project is jointly funded by the Australian Government and Queensland Government, and is being delivered as a Public Private Partnership.
  • 2 Funded through the Queensland Government’s High Risk Roads Program, as part of the Targeted Road Safety Program.
  • 3 Part of the Australian Government’s Warrego Highway Upgrade Program, jointly funded by the Australian Government and Queensland Government.
  • 4 Funding for this project is for pre-construction activities only.
  • 5 Part of the Australian Government’s Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, jointly funded by the Australian Government and Queensland Government.