Roads to nowhere will be updated and removed from official maps in Queensland, following a Charters Towers grazier’s intervention after her husband was seriously injured in a farm accident.

Key points:

  • A North Queensland grazier has had success in lobbying for help with changing official maps that listed ‘phantom roads’
  • Hundreds of non-existent roads may be showing incorrectly on Queensland maps
  • Farm lobby AgForce is partnering with authorities to improve map accuracy

Kylie Stretton was left horrified and concerned that lives were on the line after a Queensland Ambulance dispatcher nearly sent a back-up ambulance to a non-existent — but gazetted — road on the western side of the Burdekin River, two hours from her property on the opposite bank.

“In May, my husband Shane had a buggy accident and needed to be flown out by chopper to Townsville Hospital,” Ms Stretton said.

“A back-up ambulance was ordered but it was ordered from Charters Towers and along a roadway heading over the Burdekin River near Lancewood [Station], which doesn’t exist.”

After re-directing the ambulance dispatcher to send a unit from Townsville instead, Ms Stretton turned her focus to removing such gazetted roads, often found along stock routes or historic travel routes that no longer existed — or never existed — as passable tracks.

When she took to social media with her story, state pastoral lobby group AgForce took up the cause and, after passing the issue to the state government, the map has since been changed.

“It has been updated in the Queensland ambulance system and it’s also been removed from Google Earth, Queensland Globe and even iPhone apps … it’s all gone,” Ms Stretton said.

map showing where the non-existent river crossing had caused confusion

The offending ‘phantom’ road crossing the Burdekin River — linking the Gregory Developmental and Lancewood Roads — has been removed from maps following Ms Stretton’s complaint.(

Supplied: Queensland Globe

)

Frustration for remote families

With at least 12 marked roads in the Charters Towers Regional Council non-existent or unpassable, advocates say the state’s true number of phantom roads could number in the hundreds.

“It’s extremely widespread,” Ms Stretton said. “I’ve spoken to a lot of my friends, obviously it’s not just us, there are a lot out there.”

AgForce Queensland’s policy director, Cam Parker, said the issue was no-one’s fault, but a result of decades of maps heading online.

“Mapping’s changed a lot since paper maps and, in that evolution, there have been lines on maps put on software that might have been a historical road, planned road or stock route,” he said.

Mr Parker said tackling the issue to ensure digital mapping based on older versions of official documents was correct would prevent the problem from growing.

Ambulances with lights on travelling down a dirt road

Minutes of travel time can be critical when responding to emergency situations, particularly in remote areas.(

Supplied: Queensland Ambulance Service

)

“We’re increasingly concerned about it: As these systems online develop, they’re using lines on maps for the wrong purpose and the problem could get bigger,” he said.

Working with map owners such as the Queensland Government, AgForce said its 6,000 members could provide updates to be passed on to the government, to improve the accuracy of the state’s maps.

“Very clear things, like crossing the Burdekin River, that was an easy one to fix but what it shows is our networks can help these case-by-case solutions, even if some could take longer.”

A spokesman for Queensland Ambulance Service said the organisation always obtains specific, real-time instructions on an incident’s location and the best method of access before routing its teams to geo-verified map locations, and advising of any specific directions or access instructions.

Members of the public can lodge a request — via the QAS website — to record any information specific to accessing a particular address. That information will be stored in QAS’s Computer Aided Dispatch system.

river aerial shot

The Burdekin River in north Queensland is impassable in most seasons apart from a few back-country roads.(

Supplied: Andrew Brooks

)

Maps need clean-up

While not the most critical part of the problem, benefits beyond the timely arrival of critical emergency services can also flow from the coordinated effort to update maps.

Deliveries of fuel, fertiliser and farm supplies, as well as access to education subsidies are just some of the frustrations Kylie Stretton said could be eased by changes to maps.

“We’ve had problems accessing [the] Isolated Children’s Allowances because the government looks at the maps and says, ‘You’re not that far from Charters Towers, you’re not eligible’ and I’ve had to jump through hoops to prove this road doesn’t exist,” Ms Stretton said.

Mr Parker said better road mapping would help save time and money for all road users.

“Where there are easy solutions available for clear things [such as] non-existent river crossings, we’ve got those networks and relationships built over many years and the trust in us from those departments is key,” he said.

A spokesman for the Department of Resources said the government was always aiming to improve the accuracy of its datasets and welcomed any feedback from the public.

He encouraged Queenslanders to check their road and address data on the Queensland Globe data portal and submit feedback to the department via email.

Mapping changes a relief for emergency services, residents
Source:
Source 1

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here