RICHMOND Valley Council has been forced to suspend its rural gravel road grading maintenance program to allow the concentration of resources to those areas affected by recent flooding events.
Council’s General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said late summer rain and a wetter-than-normal start to autumn had been a challenging period for Richmond Valley motorists, with flooding causing issues across the region’s road network.
Mr Macdonald said the decision to temporarily halt grading works was not taken lightly, however, he said under government funding guidelines, Council had a set period of time to fix flood-damaged roads, which were a higher priority as community safety was paramount.
He said Council crews were facing a number of challenges to complete projects, such as saturated pavements, contractor availability, ability to have material delivered to remote areas, and inclement weather patterns.
He said road maintenance and repairs were prioritised based on risk, which often meant roads carrying higher volumes of traffic were addressed first.
“Our Infrastructure Services team is working hard to resume regular maintenance grading, but right now the key message for people using these roads is to always consider the road’s condition and travel with care,” Mr Macdonald said.
Mr Macdonald said Council’s unsealed road grading program usually adhered to a schedule where roads were graded once or twice a year, or once every two years depending on the traffic volumes.
He said roads condition would be monitored by staff and roads or sections deemed urgent would be graded.
“Safety remains a priority on local roads and in areas where grading remains suspended crews will continue to inspect roads for safety and performance,” Mr Macdonald said.
To assist in this process, local motorists are encouraged to report hazards using the Request Action form on Council’s website, or by calling the 24-hour hotline 6660 0300.
Mr Macdonald said Council recognised that communities appreciated the regular grading program, and apologised for any inconvenience this change may create.
He said the routine program would resume as soon as possible following the completion of emergency works.
“In the current situation, some of our maintenance grading patrols have been diverted to assist in managing priority maintenance projects, however, it will be business as usual once these roads have been repaired,” Mr Macdonald said.
“We urge people who live or travel on affected roads to drive to the conditions.”