Letter: council is reactive rather than proactive about rural roads

Port Macquarie Hastings Council is proving to be only reactive not proactive when it comes to the rural road network. This is currently been proved when residents read the current draft Unsealed Road Policy now on display until the 19th September on.

Rollands Plains Community Group have been tirelessly complaining for PMHC to adopt a Rural Roads Policy – this would cover all roads in rural areas both sealed and unsealed, especially roads west of the pacific Highway. Rollands Plains Community Group have put forward this response to the Draft Unsealed Roads Policy and urge all residents living on a rural road to read the policy and respond.

“Rollands Plains Community Group wish to express their disappointment with PMHC’s draft Unsealed Roads Policy for the following reasons: -

1.      No provision for any upgrading of unsealed roads.

a.      With the steady population increase in the Hastings locality it is absolutely ludicrous and very devaluing that there is no provision to upgrade any unsealed road

b.      Increased population means more traffic on the roads and this includes unsealed roads

c.      Current Classification model states that regional tourism and economic value is included to determine level of service. We believe that the potential (future development) for both tourism and commercial values must be considered, - meaning in order to attract both to an area we need a suitable and safe road network

2.      No provision for the upgrade or rectifying of unsuitable, substandard and outdated fords, causeways, culverts, bridges, and other crossing types.

a.      So many of the creek crossing on unsealed roads are so old and outdated that they become dangerous when the creeks are in flood. (and as all council knows the Mid North Coast is prone to flooding)

b.      In the main unsealed roads have a network of fords, causeways, culverts, bridges, and other crossing types, that are in very poor condition not having been maintain or upgraded to deal with the creeks they are intended to cross.

3.      Current re-sheeting program is totally inadequate for the state of the unsealed road network

a.      The stated schedule for gravel re-sheeting appears to say that over the entire unsealed road network only 3km per annum for major and local roads – 1 km per 36 years for a major road and 1km per 115 years for a local road – this is just insulting

b.      PMHC talks about unsealed roads as gravel many are just dirt as the re-sheeting program is totally inadequate

4.      No provision for dust control or minimisation

a.      All gravel roads will produce dust, however there are very real and effective means in which to address dust levels – however there is absolutely no mention of a provision to address unacceptable road generated dust

Rollands Plains Community group have been advocating for council to adopt a Rural Roads Policy which covers both sealed, unsealed roads as well as the creek crossing. Many of the rural sealed roads in the Hastings are in a deplorable condition, continuously patched until the entire road is so rough, uneven and narrow it is downright dangerous. (One example is Pembroke Road) As well, unsealed roads of network and community connectivity are left to be unsealed and substandard for the volume and type of traffic they are subject too. (two examples are Stoney Creek Road and Bril Bril Road)

Residents living west of the Pacific Highway have every right to feel discriminated against by PMHC due to the continuing disrespect shown to the state of rural roads.

Not having the funds (the answer that PMHC always states) is not a truthful answer. Rollands Plains Community Group has proved that there is State Government funding available, however when PMHC was asked what dollar % the council was prepared to contribute when addressing the upgrade of Bril Bril Road, the answer was” PMHC doesn’t have the money.” Well it is time PMHC looks at their squirreling culture – placing millions of dollars of ratepayer’s money away, supposedly saving for future projects while the very roads that those same ratepayers drive on daily are continuing to deteriorate

Roads are one of council’s prime responsibilities, however residents living west of the Pacific Highway are seeing very little in the way of positivity from PMHC. Beaches, parks and gardens within the Port Macquarie suburban areas, while important, should not come before a decent road network across the ENTIRE shire”.

Rollands Plains community group