Work to start today blockaded stretch of tourist drive
WORK will start today on repairing a four kilometre section of the Mary Valley Tourist Drive that was blockaded by locals this morning demanding a permanent fix to what they say is a potholed and dangerous section between Conondale and Kenilworth.
Glass House MP Andrew Powell said he fully understood the residents' frustration and the ongoing poor condition of the road surface and its shoulders.
"It is unacceptable and inexcusable,'' he said.
Mr Powell's Maleny office is understood to have been bombarded by calls from locals demanding repair work before the Easter break.
"Upon being notified of the state of the road I immediately contacted the Department of Main Roads who undertook a site visit the following day and ordered emergency works to be done before Easter - those works are occurring today and tomorrow,'' Mr Powell said.
"Work will continue after Easter to improve the gravel verge of the 4km stretch.
"This outcome, whilst an improvement, continues to be at best a 'band aid' solution and I have again called on Main Roads to bring forward a full upgrade - the construction of two bitumen lanes - at this location.
"In the meantime, I ask any resident who uses this road and notices it deteriorating to urgently contact me on 5318 8100.
"Please don't assume someone else has done it, call me so I can get action as soon as possible."
POLICE were called to break up a blockade on the Mary Valley Tourist Drive this morning set up by residents angry about the state of a 4km section between Conondale and Kenilworth.
By the time officers from Maleny arrived at the scene around 8.20am traffic had ground to halt although the Kenilworth to Maleny school bus was allowed through after about a 15 minute delay.
About 30 protesters, a four wheel drive vehicle and a tractor moved off the road when directed by Officer Ross Hamilton. When asked to identify the protest organiser they all claimed responsibility.
Officer Hamilton told protesters he understood their frustration but people needed to get to work.
"It's okay to protest but don't block the road. You can't block a public thoroughfare whatever the reason.''
Sonja Fleiter who has drivem a school bus over the road twice a day, five days a week for the past 16 years said she feared for the safety of the children she was responsible four.
Ms Fleiter said she had to work back through the gears on the section of road that has a bitumen strip only wide enough for one vehicle and is lined either side with large potholes.
"I've been doing this for 16 years and I've never seen it worse,'' she said.
"I need to be constantly watching the road and the kids and if anything happens I'll be to blame.
"If I get a flat tyre from a pot hole or a broken windscreen from a flying rock, it won't be Main Roads that pays."
Dave Sands, who parked his four wheel drive across the road as part of the blockade said he was sick of Andrew Powell walking the road as a political stunt and promising that it will be fixed only for nothing to be done.
Kim Jorgensen said the Mary Valley Tourist Drive carried large numbers of day trippers each weekend as well as people towing caravans.
"With the wine and cheese festival on in Kenilworth over Easter there is going to be full on traffic through there.
Officer Hamilton told protesters they could make their point from the side of the road but were not permitted to block a public thoroughfare.
He said Maleny Police had received complaints from time to time saying motorists should drive to the conditions.
Today's protest underscores the frustration hinterland residents feel about a problem long complained about but never addressed.
Ian Fleiter, who brought his tractor from his former dairy farm to be part of the blockade, said the people of Conondale were "sick to the neck" of being treated like a third world country.
He said he informed LNP Member for Glass House Andrew Powell yesterdaytues a barricade would be going up because "nothing else had worked".
Mr Fleiter said repair work on the road was always minimal, didn't last and on occasions added to the danger.
"They've put blue metal down (in the potholes) and not rolled it,'' he said. "When cars hit it the metal is fired like bullets from a gun.''
Rodney Mundt who has lived in Conondale for 69 years said the four kilometre stretch of road needed proper maintenance and a skilled grader driver.
"They got rid of all the Main Roads workers,'' he said. "They just fill in the potholes."
MALENY police arrived in force at 8.20am to break up a community blockade protesting the condition of the Mary Valley Tourist Dr between Conondale and Kenilworth.
Officer Ross Hamilton said he had no problem with the people protesting but they had no right to block a public thoroughfare.
Police appreciated the concerns of residents regarding the road but advised that people should drive to the conditions.
Protesters responded to the directions, immediately removing a four-wheel-drive and large farm truck from the road, which had been blocking people community to work.
Should more attention be placed on fixing rural roads?
This poll ended on 29 March 2016.
Yes. The state of some of the Sunshine Coast's rural roads is shocking.
No. The focus should be on where the greater number of road users travel.
They should get more attention than they do, but not as much as the major roads.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
It is understood that the State Member for Glass House Andrew Powell's office has been inundated by phone complaints about the road over the past week and that he was told about the proposed action this week.
Mr Powell has on several occasions walked the road to raise awareness of problems with it, but resident Dave Sands said the community was sick of it and of what he described as political stunts.
Protesters have moved to the sides of the road and are shouting out to passing motorists.
Police have erected witches hats as a safety measure.
RESIDENTS have blocked a section of Mary Valley Tourist Dr in protest of the failure of successive governments to maintain the stretch of Maleny-Kenilworth Rd between Conondale and Kenilworth.
The road is heavily pot-holed and has not been maintained for several months.
Residents fear for the safety of people flocking to Kenilworth for the Wine and Cheese Festival this weekend.
The blockade was parted momentarily to allow students from Kenilworth travelling by bus to continue on to school at Maleny.
However, bus driver Sonja Fleiter, who has driven the road twice a day for the past 16 years, said she feared constantly for the safety of the young people in her care.
Reporter Bill Hoffman is on scene and will provide updates as they happen.