THEIR job is to assist with the safety of highway motorists when escorting oversized trucks to their destinations.
But increasingly, pilot vehicle drivers are finding it difficult to do that job because of the state of Queensland’s roads.
Keith Kingsley, temporarily in Emerald while piloting a cotton module builder to Hillston just south of the border, said Central Highlands’ roads were “pathetic”.
“There’s such a major difference going over that state line,” he said.
“You notice the difference straight away… Queensland roads are just buggered.”
He said comparing the state’s roads to their interstate counterparts was impossible, and he’d be a good judge of that having travelled nationwide throughout his decades of interstate haulage and piloting.
“It’s like comparing a dirt track to bitumen and yes, you guessed it, we’ve got the dirt track,” he said.
Roly Keely, piloting with Keith to Hillston, agreed with the comparison, and went further to describe Central Highlands roads as “bloody disgusting”.
“The worst bits are about 10km out of town on the way to Blackwater,” he said. “Shoulder problems are the worst, especially when there are big potholes which are getting pretty big and you need to get off the road just to avoid them.”
But there were some good reports of the region’s roads from the piloting pair: “Rolleston to The Jump is probably the best bit of road in Central Queensland.
“Rolleston to Emerald, however, is bloody crook.”
Entire patches of bitumen are missing from roads on the eastern side of Comet, but naming specific spots where vital highways became treacherous was impossible, Roly said, because “there’s too many to mention”.
But it’s not a case of the council turning a blind eye to the damaged roads.
Central Highlands Mayor Peter Maguire knew of the damage, and was quick to assure residents the council was presently working on fixing the roads.
“We’ve had unprecedented flooding – what more can I say?” Cr Maguire said.
“We’ve got about 30 contractors working with council to try and get the roads fixed as soon as possible, with each company having a various number of workers and equipment out there.
“There’s about $70 million damage and a few thousand kilometres of roads to fix. It’s a big job.”
Cr Maguire said priority was given to opening the roads following the floods earlier this year, and suggested if the major roads and highways were left to dry out before being subjected to heavy traffic, they wouldn’t be in their current state.
“But we didn’t have a choice. We needed those roads open, so that’s what we did,” he said. “Now we’re working at fixing them up.”
However, Keith said the treacherous roads were not totally a result of the floods.
“We understand that major flooding has occurred and that it’s going to take time to get the roads back to normal again but these roads have been wrecked for years,” Keith said.
“We know the roads well enough, and we know where to go steady, but for anyone who doesn’t, it’s got to be a pretty scary trip.”
And it’s not just truck drivers and pilot vehicles that have suffered the horrors of the region’s roads, as Keith’s wife travelling through Anakie and suffered a flat tyre as a result of severely flood-damaged roads.
Further west, the roads were in just as much a deplorable state, Keith said.
“On the Landsborough Hwy, once you get past Alpha its okay, but once you hit Barcaldine, it’s rubbish,” he said.
“It took about a day to travel from there to Emerald. You don’t time the trip but you know it’s definitely longer because you have to take it steady the whole way.”
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