Council’s mission to improve Armidale Road

Kempsey Shire Council

The massive landslip at Devils Nook seen from above

Upriver residents, and particularly those relying on Armidale Road have had an incredibly hard few years filled with drought, bushfire and multiple floods which have all impacted the road, but the road ahead is slowly improving.

Since last year’s flood, Kempsey Shire Council has been working hard to rectify the catastrophic impact on Armidale Road and the surrounding roads and bridges.

The damage remediation program will eventually see around $30 million of grant funding invested into works to repair the Shire’s infrastructure.

Council has also successfully applied for funding to repair the major landslip at Devil’s Nook with work set to begin mid-year. Devil’s Nook received urgent, short-term work in 2021, requiring innovative, major action to ensure traffic and trucks could pass using one lane.

Kempsey Shire Council Manager Infrastructure, Dylan Reeves, said that Council has done as much work as possible on the road since last year’s flood.

“We understand how difficult it has been for upriver residents over the last few years and with Devil’s Nook we knew how important it was to ensure trucks could pass for local industry, such as farmers getting stock to saleyards,” said Mr Reeves.

“We have also worked in partnership with Armidale Regional Council to arrange for the state government to take over ownership of this important road which requires work beyond the scope of either of our budgets.”

Council teams are currently working through the damage from the recent and ongoing flood events, which have caused many millions more in damage.

“The quantity of rain in the past 12 months has had a terrible impact on our general road conditions. We have extra teams working on sealed and unsealed road repairs, but our 1253 km network of roads have essentially all been impacted,” said Mr Reeves.

Mayor Leo Hauville has asked the community for patience on road repairs.

“I know many people can see their local road repair needs. They may not realise that there are other roads that have a higher need for repair due to safety and usage,” said Cr Hauville.

“Council staff are stretched by the flood event in many areas, and road repair is costly. For this reason, I would ask you to be patient.”

Council has also begun a multi-year project to replace 56 timber bridges across the Macleay Valley with concrete bridges with funding secured following the 2019 bushfires. The new bridges will be safer, more durable and able to withstand larger loads.

“The Causeway on Moparrabah Road, Majors Crossing, was replaced with a bridge as part of this program and that has been a huge benefit to the community in the recent floods,” said Mr Reeves.

Most funding for Armidale Road work has flowed from the 2021 flood however the recovery grants from the 2019 bushfire have also been directed towards replacing and repairing fire-damaged infrastructure and community programming. These actions will also benefit the upriver community and the agriculture and tourism industries.

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