MOTORISTS are risking head-on collisions in order to avoid a damaged road in Weipa that is “well overdue” for repair.
The Evans Landing intersection has been in a state of disrepair for more than 12 months, however, has descended into a farce as local drivers look to avoid the potholes and bumps to access the town’s industrial area.
Cape York Weekly put up a drone last week and immediately noticed drivers cutting the corner in order to get through with their vehicles unscathed.
But local business owner Kris Brooks, from Gulf Parts and Services, said it was even worse than what was captured.
“They aren’t just cutting the corner of the T-section, they are also coming up the slip lane which is one-way only,” he said.
“It’s only a matter of time before someone gets really hurt.”
A tongue-in-cheek Mr Brooks said the intersection was “good for business” due to the damage it caused to shock absorbers, but was clearly unimpressed with the lack of urgency to fix the road.
“In all seriousness, someone will get killed if people keep driving down the wrong side of the road just to avoid the intersection,” he said.
“Someone will run into someone and everyone in town will say ‘we knew this was a bad intersection’.
“On a daily basis, I watch locals try to avoid the damage and then see tourists who try to swerve out of the way at the last minute.”
Mr Brooks said Rio Tinto should have held the previous contractor accountable for what he said was “shoddy work”.
“I remember when they ‘fixed it’ and it was done incorrectly. It was shoddy workmanship that no one has bothered to do anything about,” he said.
“I’m flabbergasted that we have to bring people from out of our town to fix our roads. We’ve got good roadmakers in our town.”
In a statement, Rio Tinto Weipa general manager Shona Markham acknowledged the problem with the Evans Landing intersection.
“We understand that this is a critical issue and we need to get this right to improve road conditions for our community,” she said.
She said the project scope and design had been completed by Rio Tinto’s appointed civil engineer and the next phase of the project, which involved working with local contractors to coordinate the required works, was scheduled for late June.
A company spokesperson said: “The project remains on schedule for completion this dry season and Rio Tinto’s mine services team are working with local contractors to assist with completing this as quickly as possible.”
Western Cape Chamber of Commerce president Jai Christie said the intersection had been a hot topic at recent meetings.
“It’s been pretty bad ever since it was built, which was pre-COVID,” he said.
“I do understand that Rio Tinto tried to tender for it and no one quoted to fix it, but it’s becoming dangerous.
“It’s getting worse and worse and – especially with tourist traffic coming through – you have to be very careful.
“Bitumen will be fine if they do it correctly. You see intersections elsewhere that are bitumen that don’t fall apart.”
Weipa Taxi Service owner/operator Murray Mountjoy said the intersection had caused significant wear and tear on his vehicles. He also said there were safety concerns for his drivers and passengers.
“We see people cutting the corner and pulling out wide to avoid the damaged section,” he said.
“The last thing we want to see is an accident there when the town has been complaining about this intersection for quite a long time.
“It definitely puts a lot of strain on our vehicles and it’s virtually unavoidable.”