Work is underway to repair storm damage on Kempsey Road, with a target to reopen an initial section by 9 April.
Remedial work – including drainage improvements, hazardous tree removal and barriers to help prevent further landslides – is being implemented to make the road safe for light vehicles.
Council crews are initially focusing on the section from Waterfall Way to Lower Creek, with an aim to have that section reopened before Easter. The eastern section, from Lower Creek to Kempsey is schedule to be reopened by 15 May.
Kempsey Road, linking Armidale and the coast, was severely damaged by heavy rainfall in January and February, compounding the effects of bushfires that caused the road to be closed just weeks earlier.
While Council acted to implement immediate repairs to keep the road open and safe for local traffic, further heavy rain caused additional rock falls and landslides.
“With forecasts now predicting drier conditions in autumn, we have a works schedule in place to make the road safe and accessible for locals,” Armidale Regional Council Mayor Simon Murray said.
“The short-term objective is to make it safe for cars and four-wheel-drives, so residents can go about their day-to-day activities.
“The necessary measures are likely to narrow the width of the road for traffic in some areas. While it was already single-lane in a number of sections, there will now be fewer passing places.”
Traffic control measures will also be in place for traffic safety and road users are urged to observe the signage.
“The narrower roadway and control measures reinforce the need for restrictions on larger vehicles and caravans using the road,” Cr Murray said.
“These short-term works will not get the road to a standard suitable for livestock trucks or other heavy vehicles.”
The NSW Government’s Office of Emergency Management has given an undertaking to reimburse Council for the cost of the short-term works.
While they are being carried out, Council is continuing to assess the damage to plan for permanent remedial work.
“The goal for the medium term is to restore Kempsey Road to its condition prior to the storms,” Cr Murray said.
“Council will work with the State Government to pursue that next phase, which would make the road accessible for livestock trucks and other heavy vehicles.”
In 2019, Kempsey Road was the focus of a multi-million-dollar program to make it safer for large vehicles and other road users.
Backed by State and Federal Government funding, Council had implemented a number of road improvement projects in recognition of Kempsey Road’s status as an important east-west connection.
Updates on the Kempsey Road repairs will be available on the Works & Projects of Council’s website.