Father’s grief: ‘Death trap’ intersection needs upgrade

EVERY DAY on his way to work, Brendan Pakleppa is reminded of the tragic death of his nine-year-old daughter.

In March last year, Mr Pakleppa lost daughter Zara Pakleppa in a horror crash that also maimed his son Jamie, age six.

While locals have likened crossing the Cawarral on intersection on Yeppoon Road to engaging in a game of Russian roulette, few understand the severity of the danger if presents better than Mr Pakleppa.

Since the tragic accident, Mr Pakleppa has been campaigning for safety upgrades to be made to the intersection but has had little success.

"I have to drive through that intersection every day that I go to work, and at times I'll wait up to five minutes before being able to pull out," he said.

"You can only imagine what thoughts go through my head when I'm sitting there."

Mr Pakleppa cites the 100km/hr speed limit along Yeppoon Rd as the primary issue.

"The speed along Yeppoon Rd is the biggest thing I think, if they backed it off to 80km an hour over the hill coming up to the intersection I think it'd be a lot better," he said.

"Its hard to get across in peak traffic times, pretty much between 7.30 and 9am it's flat out through there.

"From the intersection you can't really see the traffic until it comes over the hill, it's doing 100km/hr and there isn't a lot of distance between the top of the hill and the intersection."

One Nation candidate for Keppel, Wade Rothery has labelled the Cawarral intersection as the Capricorn Coast's biggest death trap and says it will be his number one priority if elected in October.

Mr Rothery has called out Keppel MP Brittany Lauga for her lack of action on the matter, particularly in light of funding announced for Yeppoon Road.

"For more than 450 days, the local member for Keppel has been feeding the Pakleppa family and the people of our region nothing but lip-service," he said.

Mr Pakleppa has also voiced his frustration with Ms Lauga, saying his patience has run out.

"I think I've heard just about every excuse from Brittany Lauga on why nothing has been done," he said.

"She made a speech in parliament last year just after the accident and sent me a message saying she was going to push to get stuff done, but that was April last year.

"Now all of a sudden they've got all this money sitting there and they're talking about having a poll to figure out where to start."

The money Mr Pakleppa refers to is $80 million in state and federal funding Ms Lauga announced was secured to upgrade the Yeppoon-Rocky Road.

She took to Facebook last week, asking for community feedback as to which section should be upgraded first.

Frustrated, Mr Pakleppa responded to her call-out, asking why nothing had been done about the Cawarral intersection yet.

Ms Lauga told The Morning Bulletin she personally fought for the $80 million state and federal funding and wanted to make sure the community had a say about where upgrades were needed most.

"We need to get this right, I need the community's help to determine the best use of the money that's on the table to make our Yeppoon-Rocky Road as safe and efficient as possible," she said.

She said she assured Mr Pakleppa last year an investigation into the crash would be carried out and safety improvements would be implemented as recommended.

"I have delivered exactly that, I also offered Mr Pakleppa a personal briefing with the experts on the findings of the investigations," she said.

The two seperate investigations carried out by Transport and Main Roads and the Queensland Police found the road and conditions did not contribute to the tragic crash.

TMR undertook a road safety investigation to determine if any improvements could be made at the Artillery Road/ Dairy Inn Road and Rockhampton-Yeppoon intersection and several enhancements were implemented as a result of this investigation, all of which were completed last week.

These included:

- Reducing the speed on Artillery Road and Dairy Inn Road approaches to Rockhampton- Yeppoon Road from 80km/h to 60km/h.

- Improving signs on the Artillery Road and Dairy Inn Road approaches to Rockhampton-Yeppoon Road

- Improving signs on Rockhampton-Yeppoon Road

Mr Pakleppa says he has noticed these changes but argues they do not address the problem.

"They put 60km an hour signs on the wrong roads, they aren't the problem," he said.

"Everyone knows there's an intersection there and you've got to slow down for it, but that's not where the problem is."

"The problem is the speed of the traffic going along Yeppoon Road."

Transport Minister Mark Bailey's office was asked what part of Yeppoon-Rockhampton Rd would be receiving urgent repair on Monday following a $5 million government investment for immediate "shovel ready" works.

The request was forwarded to the Department of Transport and Main Roads and The Morning Bulletin is yet to receive a response.