Summer has been a challenging period for rural residents of Queanbeyan-Palerang. First there was the extended dry spell. That was followed by bushfires; then water restrictions in Braidwood and Bungendore; occasional heatwave conditions; lingering smoke haze; and more recently, flooding rains.
All of these conditions have wreaked havoc on rural roads, particularly much of the 752kms of unsealed roads in Queanbeyan-Palerang.
In early December, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council announced that it had become necessary to suspend maintenance grading on many of our unsealed roads. Grading a typical 1km section of road uses between 30,000 and 40,000 litres of water – and we simply didn’t have the water available for some areas. Emergency grading was restricted to only those sections of road that were becoming dangerous.
At the same time as the suspension of maintenance grading, all four of Council’s graders were tasked with building containment lines as part of bushfire fighting efforts.
With rivers and creeks now topped up from recent rain and with all fires in the broader region either extinguished or identified by RFS as being contained, Council is now able to resume grading of unsealed roads.
“Recommencing maintenance grading of our unsealed roads will come as welcome relief for our rural residents,” said Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council Mayor, Cr Tim Overall.
“This summer has proven to be very challenging in different ways for many in our community.
“Some have faced fires head on, some have had major impacts to their business income, and some have had to endure rural roads not at the level that we aim to keep them at.
“Drivers using unsealed roads have had to reduce their speed and drive to the conditions, often adding significant time to their daily commutes and causing frustration from enduring bumpy rides.
“But with conditions now improved, our road maintenance crews can get back to the task of grading our rural roads,” Mayor Overall said.
Around Braidwood, crews and contractors have started grading on Araluen Road and Nerriga Road. They will then move on to Charleys Forest Road, Captains Flat Road, Cooma Road and Wallaces Gap Road. Each of those roads will take up to two weeks before moving on to the next one.
Around Bungendore and Queanbeyan, crews have commenced grading roads in groups. The first group includes Urila Road, Williamsdale Road and Burra Road. That group will take approximately two weeks.
The crews will then move on to Mathews Lane, Gidleigh Lane, Butmaroo Road, Hoskinstown Road and Forbes Creek Road. This group is expected to take around three weeks. Rossi Road, Captains Flat Road, Mulloon Road and Woolcara Lane will take a further four weeks. The final group, comprising Lake Road and Collector Road, will conclude the current block of grading and will take a further two weeks.
The current schedule for maintenance grading is focusing on roads that carry a higher number of vehicles and have been prioritised by staff as requiring attention. After this initial works, Council hopes to be able to return to its normal schedule of grading in accordance with the QPRC Unsealed Road Grading Policy.
Whilst the recent rain is welcome relief to farmers and rural residents who will soon see improvements to their roads, it does come as a double-edged sword with many roads in the region still recovering from recent flood damage.
“Flooding is still evident in isolated areas in Queanbeyan-Palerang. All motorists are urged to drive to the conditions of the road, and to please have patience whilst Council staff work their way through the backlog of damaged roads,” Mayor Overall concluded.
The current grading schedule can be found at: https://www.qprc.nsw.gov.au/Services/Roads-and-footpaths#section-2