Main Roads given timeframe on dangerous road

Queensland Government given until February 2011 to respond to claims it ignored highway upgrade despite knowing road was dangerous

By Brad Gardner | November 19, 2010

The Queensland Government has been given until February next year to respond to claims it ignored an upgrade to a highway despite knowing it was dangerous.

Law firm Trilby Misso is taking legal action against the Department of Transport and Main Roads over a stretch of road along the New England Highway near Toowoomba.

Since the firm announced its plans in July, a spokeswoman for Trilby Misso says papers have been filed on behalf of a car passenger who suffered a shattered femur from an accident on the highway.

"We’ve filed the notice of claim…now we’re waiting for a response from them," the spokeswoman says.

"These things do take time and we have to go through the processes."

Trilby Misso will argue Transport and Main Roads breached the Civil Liability Act, which puts the onus on an individual or public authority to rectify a danger once notified of it if it falls within their responsibilities.

Lawyer Michael Andersen says the department knows the road is unsafe because the Australian Road Assessment Program rated it three times more dangerous than ‘high risk’ routes.

The crash victim sustained the injury after the driver tried to avoid a branch that had fallen on the road.

"There are parts of the highway which have become very dangerous because the necessary upgrades of narrow, tree-lined sections haven’t been undertaken," Andersen says.

While the Act puts the onus on parties to take action, it also has a clause stating road authorities cannot be held liable if they are unaware of the danger.

The clause is meant to recognise a road department’s large maintenance obligations and that funds are not always available to finance repairs or upgrades.

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