“To see the amount of equipment and all that pounding done so close to our home was not what we expected. I hope people who could be affected on the Coffs Harbour side of the bypass construction don’t get the stress and problems we’ve been faced with,” June Buckman
“To see the amount of equipment and all that pounding done so close to our home was not what we expected. I hope people who could be affected on the Coffs Harbour side of the bypass construction don’t get the stress and problems we’ve been faced with,” June Buckman

Bypass blues: Highway to hell for Urunga family

FOR Lyn and June Buckman, it's not the noise of the newly finished Pacific Highway/Urunga bypass that has left them angry and frustrated.

"People mention noise and dust when they talk about bypass construction near their homes but that's not the big issue. It's vibration from heavy equipment they should be worried about," Lyn Buckman said.

At their South Arm Rd, Urunga property, Lyn and her mother June are facing expensive repair bills for their two homes.

They claim the damage, which includes cracked walls and tiles, broken plumbing and septic tanks and movement of a house slab due to subsidence, happened as a result of being close to a stockpile during road construction.

"The stockpile mound is built first - it's where all the deliveries to the site come, pipe, aggregate, all the equipment is stored and comes and goes from there - it's like a base for work being carried out on a section of road," Lyn said.

"The new section of highway is just over the stockpile, around 600m from our house. The highway is not the problem, never has been. We've been supportive of the road going through all along and were advised of RMS plans in 2013 and when works started in 2014. Their letter stated the stockpile maybe within 200m of our property at the closest. It ended up being within 10m from the western boundary fence and 30m of my home. At that stage I had no idea what vibration rollers did.

 

"When they started machinery each morning my bed and all the window frames rattled. I put a glass of water on the bathroom windowsill and it just shook. During the time those machines were in use, mirrors and pictures dropped off walls.

In efforts to address her concerns Lyn Buckman said she contacted the RMS and LendLease on many occasions and noise testing was conducted.

"The supervisors who worked at the stockpile were lovely and the blokes operating the equipment were terrific, it is the hierarchy that has refused to take responsibility."

"When noise testing was done on our property, it was from the furthest point of the stockpile and testing done when the machinery was not in use. I just don't understand that. It was the vibrations, not the noise, that was our issue."

According to Lyn the last piece of equipment was removed from the stockpile in July 2016 but problems are ongoing with unresolved claims with the RMS through Claims Management Australasia Pty Ltd.

"I've already had a significant amount of plumbing work completed and a septic replaced. Quotes I've had three years ago estimate almost $50,000 in repairs and all we've been offered is $13,000 which doesn't come close."

Google maps show the stockpile located between the new section of Pacific highway and the Buckman’s homes.
Google maps show the stockpile located between the new section of Pacific highway and the Buckman’s homes.

Correspondence dated June 5, 2018 from CMA to Lyn Buckman about her RMS claim for alleged damage to residence by road works, has offered "without prejudice" $10,000 in relation to claim one and $3000 to claim two. In the case of claim for the slab, "this cannot be considered unless a structural engineer's report is provided in evidence."

"This offer doesn't come close to what we need to fix the damages, so my next step is to pay $1600 for a structural engineer's report.

"I want to warn others, if you are going to be close to a stockpile be prepared. Take photos/videos of everything. If you can feel vibrations get the EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) involved. Make sure vibration testing is done while machinery is operational. Some damage like my plumbing and slab movement happened gradually."

RMS and Claims Management Australasia Pty Ltd were contacted for comment but are yet to reply.



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