Elimbah and Moodlu residents have wasted no time in formulating a response to news of the Transport and Main Roads Department (TMR) preferred route for the Stage Four Bruce Highway Alternative which was made public just weeks prior to the Christmas Break.
An estimated 500 people crowded into the Soldiers Hall at Elimbah on the evening of 13th December, spilling beyond the yard and 100 metres along Coronation Drive. The large group behaved with decorum, paying close attention to the various speakers, who advocated a powerful but respectful response to the TMR proposal.
The crowd heard addresses from State Member for Glasshouse Andrew Powell, State Member for Pumicestone, Ali King, and City of Moreton Bay Councillor Tony Latter, who assured the assembled group they can and should respond forcefully with an alternative proposal to the Stage Four route proposed by TMR.
Andrew Powell MP spoke first, describing what was happening to people as “gut-wrenching”. He urged residents affected by the Stage Four route to stick together and organise their messaging in a consistent way.
He suggested the new highway could be constructed as a ring road, and located further west, on the edge of the urban footprint, instead of running through Elimbah.
Each speaker in turn urged opponents of the route to talk to TMR about alternatives, rather than simply expressing blunt opposition.
TMR have not confirmed the number of homes in the direct path of the new highway, but the number is understood to be between 100 and 120 homes, with many more nearby homes indirectly affected with noise and dust, decreased land values, and general loss of amenity.
“We can’t just roll over and lay down and take it.”
While attendees at the December meeting were told to expect a long and difficult battle ahead, they were assured that the TMR may be persuaded to change the route if there is enough opposition.
Jason Smith, admin and driving force behind facebook group Objection to Current Bruce Highway Alternative Stage Four, lauded the support received so far. His hastily formed Facebook group attracted 200 followers within the first twenty four hours, 1100 within a fortnight, and more than 1300 by mid December.
Mr Smith said the timing of the TMR announcement just prior to the end of year break, and the deadline of 22nd January for official responses, had blindsided many affected residents.
“It appears that the short window for responses over the festive season may be strategically designed to minimise community outcry,” he said.
Glasshouse MP Andrew Powell, also criticised the timing of the release.
“There’s no good time to have done this, but surely three weeks out from Christmas is appallingly bad timing, “Mr Powell said.
Uncertainty about the eventual path of the new highway has caused significant anxiety among residents, with homeowners over a wide area of Elimbah and Moodlu believing they could be affected.
While many have received Planning Notification and Land Resumption letters, others whose properties lie close to the proposed corridor are still waiting to learn how their properties will be impacted.
Comments in the facebook group reveal anguish and uncertainty as people wait to learn their fate.
Defence Force Veteran and local resident Chuck Barry fears that the new road will worsen his existing condition.
“I have PTSD and this bypass will not be good for my mental health, nor my family,” he says.
Other locals are rallying for a fight. Resident Dave Nichols urged action. “We can’t just roll over and lay down and take it.”
Mr Smith is urging followers to focus on advocating for a changed route, to the west.
“All we need to remember is that the entire route for Stage Four is not acceptable. This route needs to go west along the large power easement to the north of Williams Road. If it doesn't, then all the Moodlu, Caboolture East and West Elimbah residents are affected and face direct and indirect impact.”
Former Moreton Bay Councillor Adrian Raedel suggested the state-owned pine forest could be used as an alternative.
Local resident Shirley Freestun also wonders why they aren’t considering going through the state forest. “The land is already owned by the state. Leave everybody alone and use that land.”
Ali King has announced an early win for those who are working to formulate an individual response to the TMR proposal, with news of an extension until February 9th, from the initial deadline of January 22nd. Anyone wanting to make a response to TMR’s preferred route should go online www.yoursay-projects.tmr.qld.gov.au/bhwa/stage-4
There is also an online parliamentary petition, www.parliament.qld.gov.au/Work-of-the-Assembly/Petitions/Petition-Details?id=4004&fbclid=IwAR0oCqsKv8NrG9W1pO8Ia07Hj_xRChW7iJbWlnJWnQiDxQR2p46dWP27Cao created by Jason Smith that has begun to attract signatures.
Wider publicity for the fledgling campaign has come through TV and radio, including a segment on Channel Nine’s A Current Affair, and several local radio interviews.
In addition more than 150 corflute signs have popped up on properties around Elimbah and Moodlu.
Jason Smith has urged all those affected by the proposed resumptions, whether directly or indirectly, to comment on the TMR feedback page, before comments close on 9th February.
TMR are running an information session on 16th January at the Wamuran Sports Complex Hall, where residents can talk to the project team. Bookings are essential www.eventbrite.com.au/e/community-information-session-wamuran-tickets-771358593317
Mr Smith’s facebook page, Objection to Current Bruce Highway Alternative Stage Four, is providing ongoing updates on the Stage Four highway route and the community response.