The road between Bellingen and Bowraville needs $25m to fix.
The road between Bellingen and Bowraville needs $25m to fix.

Costly to fix flood-damaged road

THE long way round would seem to be the only option for quite some time for Nambucca Shire residents stranded by the collapse of large stretches of the Bowraville Road.

Four families in the Spiketts Creek Valley have been virtually marooned since the narrow and winding mountain road fell victim to the series of floods which began last March.

They can still get to the Nambucca Shire but only by travelling back through Bellingen. Their plight was the subject of high level discussions on Thursday between the mayors and deputy mayors of both the Bellingen and Nambucca Councils, their senior staff, and representatives of the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA).

A number of options were also outlined by the geotechnical consultancy firm GHD which has studied the extent of the washaways.

It is believed they included the re-routing of the Bowraville Road and even the closing of it.

The Nambucca Mayor, Councillor Rhonda Hoban, said the extent of the flood damage was beyond comprehension.

“We were told that because of the challenges posed by the terrain, it will be virtually impossible for the existing road to be reconstructed,” Cr Hoban said.

Bellingen Mayor, Councillor Mark Troy, said the briefing was “enlightening to say the least.”

“The problem is just so significant that it is going to take some time to resolve just what we do about it,” Cr Troy said.

“Our priority is to talk to the six owners of the properties impacted by the washaways and particularly the four families who live in the valley.

Cr Hoban said other parties also needed to be engaged.

“The road also provides access to a nature reserve and a national park, and is of vital importance to the Rural Fire Service and Forests NSW,” she said.

“Once we have consulted with the affected landholders the preliminary report outlining the extent of damage and possible options will be released. Then we will begin broader consultation with the wider community.”

It is believed that cost estimates for re-routing the road range upwards from $25 million but that each of a number of options being considered have their own particular problems.

While the Nambucca and Bellingen Shire Councils have a vested interest in Bowraville Road, it is the RTA’s responsibility under the Natural Disaster Declaration to repair the road.

The RTA also has the power to close the road.

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