LOCAL truck drivers have shouldered the issue for several years but at long last, the State Government has confirmed it will widen the Blyth Plains Road, with works starting in a matter of weeks.
Frome MP, Geoff Brock, confirmed the state government has brought forward the $3.5 million project, which will involve shoulder sealing for the 28km stretch, with safety barriers also to be added in parts.
It was welcome news to both Nick Billing and Daniel Woidt, who both regularly drive prime movers on the notorious freight route.
“If you get two loads of hay coming at each other, it gets pretty dangerous,” Mr Woidt said.
“Even a truck with a stock crate on it, which a farmer might drive six weeks of the year, the back wheels catch the edge of the road and pull the whole load around.”
When the wheels leave the sealed service, the edges of the road also start crumbling.
“This also means the edge of the road gets thinner every year, and if you get a big grain harvest, there are trucks on this road everywhere,” Mr Billing said.
Given Viterra has announced further site closures at Gulnare and Tarlee, more grain freight could be added to the surface, while it is already a popular route for hay from the Jamestown region.
Mr Billing has seen civilian traffic also battle with the narrow surface.
“You see a number of city drivers struggle a bit on the road here at times, like you see on most country roads,” he said.
Mr Brock has raised his concerns about the condition of the road with the State Government for several years.
“It has taken many years to get this great result and I am grateful to Minister Knoll for taking the time to experience the safety issues for himself when he attended a site visit in June 2019 and saw firsthand the shocking narrow space between two passing heavy vehicles,” Mr Brock said.
“I am pleased the State Government has made a decision to tackle the road improvements sooner, rather than later.
“I have been concerned at a five-10-year time frame, which had been previously given to me by the Department, as there has been a huge potential for tragedy along this road.”
He received confirmation the Blyth Plains Road works would be brought forward from State Transport Minister, Stephan Knoll.
“Next month, we are going to get on and seal the shoulders on that road,” Mr Knoll said.
Mr Knoll visited the site in June last year.
“What we saw that day was pretty scary—essentially, two trucks coming at each other in opposite directions on a road that was so narrow that I am not 100 per cent sure how the side mirrors of those trucks didn’t smash on the way through,” he said.
“It’s an extremely dangerous part of our road
Shoulder sealing works will start later this month or possibly in early April, with completion targeted for mid-2020.
Owen Road upgraded
UPGRADES on a troublesome section on Owen Road should be completed by this weekend.
The $300,000 works included pavement rehabilitation and spray sealing from Alma Road intersection to Holman Road.