Up to 50 people could be entitled to compensation after bitumen on a recently resurfaced road in far north Queensland melted around car tires, causing traffic chaos and damage to vehicles.
The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) was forced to close the Malanda Millaa Millaa Road near Tarzali on the Atherton Tablelands on Wednesday and undertake emergency repairs after receiving several complaints.
Motorist Bridget Daley said her tires were covered in bitumen, which had also flown off, striking her mud guard bar and snapping it off.
“I was absolutely horrified to find that there was three inches of bitumen coated around all four wheels of my vehicle,” she said.
“It was like we were insects caught in a spider’s web and we were sinking.
“There were people that were pulled up on the side of the road and they were in total and complete disbelief as to what had happened to their vehicles.”
Another driver posted to social media saying the roads were a disgrace.
“We now have chipped paint and windscreen damage to our brand-new car,” Anissa Rasmussen wrote.
“We were stopped by police at Tarzali 10 kilometers from our destination because cars were broken down covered in tar, with it coating their wheels.
“Then police diverted us an hour through more roadworks with idiots driving high speeds through the gravel and spraying our car with rocks.”
The department said the tarmac was resurfaced last week by transport contractor COLAS Australia but became damaged due to wet weather.
District director Sandra Burke said the extreme hot temperatures that followed caused the surface to melt.
“It’s a combination of factors,” she said.
“We have extreme weather conditions on Malanda Millaa Millaa Road … unusually cold weather and wet weather combined with works at hand and the short impact of the hot weather yesterday caused the situation to occur.”
Drivers to be paid compensation ‘as soon as possible’
Ms Burke said the department would offer compensation for any vehicle or property damage caused by the works and urged anyone who was impacted to get in contact.
“All claims for compensation will be assessed on a case by case basis,” Ms Burke said.
“TMR will ensure compensation is paid as soon as possible.”
‘I’ve never seen anything like it’
Meanwhile, Tablelands Regional Council Mayor Joe Paronella said he understood it was a change of weather that led to the tire damage.
“I have never seen anything like it and when the reports started coming through yesterday it was just incredible,” he said.
“Last week a whole section of road was done by a Main Roads contractor and the gravel they put down on top did not adhere to the bitume n.
“We started getting reports in the middle of last week from people getting stones and gravel flying up everywhere, so we’ve been trying to assist Main Roads as much as possible, we helped with brooms to get the gravel off.
“That was when we had cold weather and drizzle, since the weekend we’ve had the exact opposite and the bitumen, and the way I understand it, because there’s no gravel, it’s leading to vehicles galore with this massive amount of tar.”
The owner of a nearby tire repair service Vince Whalley said about a dozen customers came in after traversing the road, needing their tires replaced.
“They become very unsafe. The tar coming off the tires itself is knocking bumper bars loose, knocking panels underneath,” he said.
“This would be the first time I’ve ever seen anything like it.”
Mr Whalley said one tourist travelling through the region for school holidays was forced to pay $1,200 for a new set of tires.
“There are so many innocent people caught in this and if anyone who has damage to their vehicles to do with the failure of these roadworks need to contact Main Roads,” Cr Paronella added.
“I would certainly be talking to the department about possible compensation.”
In 2015 a heatwave melted cars. The incredible moment a car melted in the killer heatwave in Italy has been captured on camera by a British tourist.
John Westbrook said he was astonished when he saw the Renault Megane dripping as it was parked opposite a beach in the coastal town of Caorle in northern Italy, as temperatures hit 37C (99F).
The 48-year-old taxi driver from Folkestone, Kent, filmed the lights, wing mirrors and window fittings melting off the car during the heatwave, which has claimed the lives of more than 100 pensioners.
‘I guess the moral of the story is don’t trust French cars.’ John Westbrook s said. The temperature then was in the 90’s.