Melting tar claims first crash victim

Melting tar claims first crash victim Mt Glorious costly engineers

Repairs to shoddy Mt Glorious roadworks have been delayed while Queensland’s Main Roads finds “specialised contractor” after a rider crashed this week in slippery melting tar.

The Sydney rider, Stephen Thomas, suffered minor injuries and his Honda was damaged, but he was able to ride home, according to eye witnesses.

They say he was lucky not to die when his bike crashed into the guard rail.

Melting tar claims first crash victim Mt Glorious
Steve’s crashed Honda

His bike picked up large chunks of melting tar mixed with gravel from the road surface because of the faulty roadworks.

A statement from the Queensland Transport and Main Roads (TMR) Department says they are monitoring conditions:

Repairs to this section of Mount Glorious Road, locally known as Northbrook Parkway, have been delayed while we source a specialised contractor to undertake the seal rejuvenation works.

The repairs should now be finalised by the end of next week, weather permitting.

In the meantime, our contractor has been monitoring road conditions.

Safety signs installed last week will remain in place until improvement works are completed.

Our Traffic Management Centre confirmed that no reported incidents were recorded for Northbrook Parkway as of this morning.

We remind motorcyclists to always ride to conditions and recognise their responsibility to ride sensibly and safely within the law.

We remain committed to ensuring motorcycling is a safe and enjoyable experience for those who choose to ride.

TMR was last week alerted to the problem by riders who experienced loss of traction. They responded by placing an electronic 50km/h warning sign on the wrong corner.

When we advised them of their mistake last week, they moved it to the correct corner. However, in the morning, it is difficult to read with the sun on the screen.

Melting tar claims first crash victim Mt Glorious
Electronic sign (impossible to read with the sun on it!)

Legal advice

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers principal Malcolm Cumming says road authorities have a duty of care to “take all reasonable steps to make sure all their roads are safe for all motorists, including vulnerable road users”.

“It seems that a lot of the time the way road authorities do repair work is with complete disregard to any motorists not driving a car or other four-wheeled vehicle,” he says.

“Loose debris and poor road conditions (such as melting tar) may not be much of a hazard for most vehicles but they are extremely dangerous for riders.”

Malcolm Cumming - judge melting tar
Malcolm Cumming

He pointed out a case where a crashed rider successfully sued a council and contractor for poor roadworks that left debris behind near Nimbin in northern NSW.

Malcolm says Maurice Blackburn Lawyers are representing several riders who have crashed on poorly maintained roads or roadworks where the authority knew of a problem.

“Most relate to the deliberate practice of leaving loose material on the roadworks with no attempt to clear away debris,” he says.

Malcolm says there is a systemic lack of satisfactory national regulations and compliance on the quality of roadworks.

“A lot of the time the roadworks are obviously sub-par and there is no question they would not meet any standard at all,” he says.

Melting tar claims first crash victim Mt Glorious
Sub-par roadworks at Mt Glorious are a sticky mess of tar

“There seems to be no supervision by the relevant authorities of the work that their contractors are carrying out.”

Of course, Malcolm suggests crashed riders seek legal advice.

“But the other crucial point is that riders who observe defective roads or roadworks should report it to the relevant road authority in writing so that it is a matter of record,” he says.

“Most importantly to promote roadworks to fix the defect but also if something consequently happens to someone, if it’s been reported to the authority, it’s of enormous significance in the success of bringing a claim after the event.

“The state of knowledge of the authority can be very important in these cases.”

There was some hope of official recommendations on roadworks from a coronial inquest last year into the death of a motorcyclist who hit a pothole on roadworks at a new bridge near Goulburn.

However, the coroner issued no findings of fault, nor made recommendations for councils to promptly fix road defects.

To be fair, the council had already admitted its incompetence and addressed the major issues.

Also, it should be noted that the Nimbin case shows riders can successfully sue relevant authorities and contractors for shoddy roadworks.

Speed concerns

The concern among riders is that TMR will reduce the 80km/h speed limit on the Northbrook Parkway to 60km/h where the crash occurred this week.

Local rider David White has petitioned government for increased speed limits on the mountain after speeds were dropped as much as 20km/h in some area over the past few years. 

“I am extremely concerned that TMR’s reaction will be to lower speed limits permanently,” he says.

“If they do this, I would view it as a totally unacceptable response.”

9 Comments

  1. I had this idea a while ago, perhaps some one can polish it up. Can a web site for riders be set up where a list of dodgy road works that has been reported to the council can be listed? Day, Date, Time to whom and so on. Perhaps photos. If a rider drops it on a dodgy fix, they may have access to a record showing the council was aware of the road and had not taken action. May help with legal issues. Dunno, just a thought.

    1. Hi Pete,
      There already exist websites and social media pages that do that.
      However, you have to know they exist!
      A better option would be a smartphone app that alerts you when you are near known roadworks or hazardous roads. Like those apps that alert you to known speed cameras.
      But it would all take a lot of input from the riding public to keep it updated.
      Get cracking on it!
      Cheers,
      Mark

  2. And I find it interesting that TMR Depts are apparently quoted as seeking ‘specialist’ contractors. Surely ANY contractor who is awarded a contract anywhere to lay bitumen should know what the hell they’re doing. This is just so shoddy it would seem. Someone somewhere should be held accountable.

  3. This is the second time TMR have laid the wrong bitumen mix on Mt Glorious.
    six or eight years ago they laid very sharp bluemetal in the rainforest section on the top of the mountain. the result was multiple punctures. local police were quoted in The Northern Times that the speed limit would be lowered to 60kph until the section of road could be relaid and would be raised back to 80kph when works were completed. That section of road is now the best surface on the entire road from The Gap to the T at the bottom of the hill.
    the speed limit is still 60. never trust what police or pollies say.

  4. If a motorcycle can crash on this crap then a multiple wheeled vehicle can too!
    Just imagine having to do an emergency stop and nothing happening to slow you down. If someone dies as a result of the poor quality road works manslaughter charges should be filed against all the perpetrators of this debacle.

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