Roads to rack and ruin

THE shocking state of roads around the district is causing major safety concerns for road users, with many drivers saying it’s only a matter of time before an accident occurs.

Edges of roads are also breaking away or forming large mounds on the side creating deep unsafe ridges for drivers, particularly in areas without a wider road shoulder.

If you’ve recently driven along the Owen road from Hamley Bridge to Templers, it would be hard not to notice large potholes in the bitumen, some with a depth of more than six inches.

This section of the road, that falls within the Light Regional Council, has been confirmed as a Department of Infrastructure and Transport (DIT formerly DPTI) managed road.

These potholes have reached such a state of disrepair that a small orange flag has been placed next to the largest ones, however no other warning signage is currently present.

Drivers regularly have to give way to oncoming traffic and veer onto the wrong side of the road to avoid the deep pothole.

Regular Owen road user, and farmer who has property alongside the road, Ian Carmichael, is deeply concerned with just how bad the road has to get before it is finally repaired.

“The road is bloody terrible,” Ian said.

“That road is seeing more traffic than ever before, people are regularly travelling along it to get to and from work every day, and it won’t be long before there is a serious accident.”

There is also a concern for trucks travelling the road, especially throughout harvest when truck usage ramps up.

“Trucks can’t slow down that quickly to swerve to the other side of the road – it’s a disgrace and it’s dangerous,” Ian said.

“I use one of the intersections along the road regularly to transport farm equipment and the drop from the bitumen to the dirt road would easily be six inches.

“And no-one has spent any time recently grading the edges of the road,” Ian said.

Ian said he regularly sees DIT employees filling potholes with bitumen, but within a matter of a few weeks, they are ruined and potholes have returned.

“There is never any proper work done to the road, it needs an overhaul, to be dug up and rebuilt it so it will last,” Ian said.

Member for Frome, Geoff Brock, has inspected the road after concerns were raised with him, and was shocked at the state of the road.

“I’m really concerned about the state of this road, this is very, very dangerous in numerous sections,” Geoff said.

“It’s creating a large safety issue for the grain industry, tourists and school buses. I have written to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Corey Wingard with the urgency of which this road needs to be fixed,” Geoff said.

Mr Brock lobbied for critical repairs to the road in 2019 and had been pleased at the time when the State Government agreed for 800 metres of road to be scheduled for rehabilitation works which were completed during March 2020.

But Mr Brock said he is still concerned that the work is still outstanding when it comes to critical sections of the road.

Other sections of the Owen Road are also deteriorating including the recently repaired section just past the Alma turnoff, where sections of bitumen are beginning to lift.

This follows on from the Blyth Plains road, reported in the Plains Producer on November 18, which is also crumbling after having $3.51m spent on repairing its surface.

Mr Brock is deeply concerned by the lack of quality inspections after these projects have been completed.

“Who is checking these projects once they have been completed and before they pass for payment?” Geoff said.

“We lobby hard to get these regional roads repaired for them only to then start disintegrating after six months – it’s just embarrassing,”

Adding to the list of crumbling regional roads is a five kilometre stretch between Crystal Brook and Gulnare on the Goyder Highway which is causing major traffic problems.

“An amount of $3.5m was spent on widening and adding a shoulder to this road which is now falling apart, with aggregate beginning to show through the surface similar to the surface on the Blyth Plains Road,” Geoff said.

Once more Mr Brock has contacted the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport sharing his concerns for this stretch of road.

“These roads need to be built to specifications that are of a regional road standard and can withstand the usage they get from the freight and grain industry, school buses and tourism,” Geoff said.