Fed-up with ?busted? roads
THORA resident, Jenna Best, worries about her daughter who travels on the school bus along Darkwood Road each day.
Another resident, Donna, said she won't even walk her dog along the road anymore.
"The road is too dangerous and there is nowhere to get off when traffic comes," Donna said.
These women are part of the groundswell of frustrated Thora Valley residents who are fed-up with the condition of their busy road, which services two schools and all the associated bus movements plus a growing population of valley residents and tourists.
A long-time valley resident, Darcy Browning, said the council was just repairing the damage, without putting any emphasis on preventing the problems.
"Since 2001, the council has spent millions of dollars repairing the verges and bridges," Mr Browning said.
"But the road needs proper reconstruction in a lot of places ? it's criminal neglect."
Another resident said the truckloads of quarry stone and shale the council brought in to repair the road, just weren't up to the job.
"The council dumps tonnes of rock along the roadsides, which they compact and grade.
"It all looks beautiful until the next storm when it all washes away again.
"Why don't they do the job properly? Then the ongoing maintenance would be minimal."
Bellingen Shire mayor, Cr Mark Troy, said it was very difficult to provide a good standard of rural road network given the shire's terrain and rainfall.
"We are anticipating flood relief money, possibly next week, which we will use to repair local roads," Cr Troy said.
"That will allow restoration works to proceed, but those funds can't be spent on improvements. We do our best with the funds available to ensure they are spent on the areas of greatest need ? all areas are treated equitably."
When asked why the council couldn't take out a loan and do the work, the council's general manager, Peter Doyle, said it wasn't that simple.
"The minister decides how much we can borrow, he also decides how much we can put rates up," Mr Doyle said.
"All we can do is continue to keep the roads as safe as we can, prioritise and lobby for more funding."