Work to improve bushfire resilience along some of the State’s major regional highways is underway as the 2020/21 bushfire season approaches.
Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro said teams were removing high risk trees that had the potential to fall on sections of the Princes Highway on the South Coast and the Gwydir Highway in the north of the state as part of the NSW Government’s bushfire resilience program.
“We know how important it is to be prepared ahead of the upcoming bushfire season after the devastation of last summer’s bushfires,” Mr Barilaro said.
“When trees fall across the road during a bushfire, entire communities can be cut off from emergency services or from travelling to safety and this is why we are putting preventative measures in place to identify and remove trees which pose a risk.
“This builds on the NSW Government’s $64 million recovery effort to restore the NSW road network which saw thousands of burnt trees cleared following the most recent devastating bushfire season.”
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said removing high risk trees will improve evacuation routes and get people and freight moving quickly after a bushfire.
“This is about ensuring people can evacuate quickly in the event of an emergency – and that supplies and support can move in quickly to support affected communities,” Mr Toole said.
“We’ve had our teams and assessors out identifying trees over the last two weeks that might impact the road network if they were to fall. In areas where wildlife needs to be removed, affected fauna will be relocated to the surrounding area. Cultural impacts have also been taken into account, with Aboriginal heritage respected and carefully assessed as part of this process.”
Mr Toole said Transport for NSW teams had also been replacing burnt culverts with new pipes that are more capable of withstanding bushfire impacts.
Work to remove vulnerable trees along the Princes Highway from Nowra to Ulladulla and Cobargo to Eden, as well as along the Gwydir Highway between Grafton and Glen Innes, commenced this week.
The work is expected to be complete by late September, weather permitting.