Caloundra-based Geoff Leddy, a director of RACQ for 13 years, has been appointed its new president. Geoff took time out to talk with HT editor Michael Berry about the challenges facing the RACQ, and transport infrastructure on the Sunshine Coast and hinterland.
I did parking studies in my days (as a civil engineering consultant) in Bundaberg and one of the things that we proposed was a multi-storey car park that you entered from a back street. It was developed with a combined shopping precinct on to the main street. But the dollars involved didn’t add up for a developer to invest even with the shopping centre. It still needed ratepayer funds and/or parking charges.
I know that’s not popular so the first step is timed parking where you try to get people to move on. But that in itself is a problem in places like Maleny and Montville where you want people to walk up and down the street for a couple of hours – you don’t want them there for five minutes. So, it’s not an easy
issue to solve.
HT: Sunshine Coast residents and commuters to and from Brisbane have been putting up with increasing traffic volumes and congestion on the Bruce Highway for many years now. How can this be addressed?
GL: The Bruce Highway to Brisbane is one of the biggest challenges from a road congestion point of view.
I live at Kings Beach and to my mind we haven’t done too badly in recent years with our feeder roads to the Bruce Highway – Caloundra Road and Maroochydore Road – but Nicklin Way is going to be a problem for many years and it will require a lot of funding to fix it.
We need better public transport to take pressure off our roads and I think light rail along Nicklin Way would be a great option for the Coast, although the costs are astronomical.
HT: Ridge towns in the Sunshine Coast hinterland also face congestion issues and a lack of parking, particularly on the weekends when there is an influx of visitors. Is this an issue for RACQ?
GL: As for the hinterland I can see that Montville and Maleny are congested, with a lack of parking. It’s a specific issue we haven’t looked at as a Club. It’s difficult because it’s both a council issue and a state government planning issue.
HT: What are the main challenges ahead for you as RACQ’s new president?
GL: I don’t think our challenges at the RACQ are very different to those we’ve had for the past 20 years, except that the economy is becoming tighter. RACQ started as an advocacy organisation for motorists long before we added roadside assistance, so advocacy is still one of our core purposes.
The RACQ is involved in a global network called the Decade of Action for Road Safety. I am a road engineer by profession so I am passionate about roads and safety. We continue to push our state and federal governments for more money to be spent on our major roads. The challenge for the Club is to be able to keep the need for more roads’ funding – and improved road safety as a result – front of mind for governments. I see the state premier has just announced a master plan to improve the Bruce Highway from Caboolture to the Sunshine Motorway and to Caloundra Road. That’s good but the timeline is 11-20 years which is just too far away.
The president’s role is meant to be a two to three days a week job, but I have spent every day of the week on RACQ business since taking over. I am sure it will settle down but there are quite a few issues for me to get my head around.