TRUCKIES stranded in north west Queensland are starting to get moving again, but are braced for continuing impacts on the transport sector.
Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Queensland president Ian Wild said communities had been generous in helping out stranded drivers.
“Drivers were stopped from delivering their loads but it’s the farming community that is really going to be affected,” Mr Wild said.
“There is going to be a big impact on the transport sector as well as the whole rural community.”
Mr Wild said while some roads had reopened, others remained under water.
“It’s all these little roads in between that are the big problem,” he said.
“Even when the water does recede, is there a road left underneath?”
Mr Wild said the impact of the flooding on the transport industry was still largely unknown, with it quite likely road damage would mean drivers would have to seek alternate routes in coming months.
“The further out of your road you go, the more you’ve got to charge to get there and that’s the last thing any of these communities need,” he said.
Winton mayor Gavin Baskett said during the flooding they had about 30 truck drivers stranded in town, along with other travellers.
“The road reopened at 1pm yesterday and they were gone,” he said.
“The road to Boulia is closed and will be closed for another week at least.”
Cr Baskett said crews were starting to carry out emergent works to fix flood damaged roads, but that it would be months before many were at a similar standard to before the weather event.
“Some of the damage has come from cattle walking up and down the road trying to get a bit of higher ground,” he said.
Charters Towers mayor Liz Schmidt said truck drivers stranded in town during the flooding had been able to head on their way again after the Macrossan Bridge reopened.
“Our people really embraced the truck drivers, they fed them and provided them a place to have a shower,” she said.
Cr Schmidt, formerly a president of the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association, said the livestock industry had been devastated and other industries would also be impacted.
“Some transport operators may well go to their knees along with the graziers,” she said.
“All of these ancillary businesses around the cattle industry could struggle as well.”
RACQ Head of Public Policy Rebecca Michael said there is expected to be a significant amount of damage to roads across northern Queensland, and potentially more damage as roads are reopened to traffic.
“Weight (axle) limits may be applied to try to control this,” Dr Michael said.
“There will be a loss of productivity and efficiency due to longer delivery distances and times, limits on vehicle size and the potential damage to vehicles.
“Tourism may also suffer as trips are diverted or delayed.”
Dr Michael said after ensuring people and roads are safe, there will be a need to assess the damage and identify priority needs.
“Major transport arteries like national highways and state roads are a good place to start to get transport back on track,” she said.