RICHMOND Valley Council has received a Natural Disaster Declaration from the NSW Government following the damaging flash floods of 12-13 February, paving the way for extensive repair works on the Valley’s 530km unsealed road network.
As of Monday 2 March, three road crews will begin an initial two-month program of works on roads which require the most urgent repairs.
General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said the total cost of repairs to the Valley’s roads from heavy rainfall caused by ex-Tropical Cyclone Uesi had been revised up from $2 million to between $3-$4 million.
“With so much damage, it is expected that the full restoration program from this disaster may take up to 18 months,” Mr Macdonald said. “We are asking the community for patience as this work is carried out.”
Mr Macdonald said Council had undertaken work in the immediate aftermath of the weather event to reopen roads where it was feasible to do so.
“As one example, Council carried out initial emergency road works to reopen Old Dyraaba Road. These included importing 120 tonnes of gravel on a damaged slope near the bus shelter to allow the local school bus to use the road safely. Council also cleared a landslip from the road to make it safely passable by residents.”
Mr Macdonald said with the Disaster Declaration made on Wednesday 26 February, Council could now plan with confidence, as the repair work would not be exclusively funded out of ratepayer’s pockets.
“Council is now moving from urgent safety works to methodical remediation,” he said.
“With our upcoming schedule of works, we have prioritised those roads which suffered the most serious damage.”
Work will commence on Monday to repair the Pikapene section of Busbys Flat Road (13.5km), Old Dyraaba Road (8.5km), and Coraki-Ellangowan Road (11.6km).
Work is then scheduled to follow on Upper Mongogarie Road, Upper Cherry Tree Road, and the Bulmers Mill section of Busbys Flat Road.
“These are Category A unsealed roads – our highest priority category – and they require significant remediation,” Mr Macdonald said.
“Over the next four weeks Council contractors will resurface damaged sections of Old Dyraaba Road with thousands of tonnes of gravel, rebuild damaged culverts, and reline drainage channels with thousands of tonnes of rock ballast.
“This work is estimated to cost $250,000 and take up to four weeks. Extensive work will also take place on the Pikapene section of Busbys Flat Road and Coraki-Ellangowan Road.
“Council has devoted two of its own road crews plus an additional contractor crew to this work full-time for the foreseeable future.
“This is not standard maintenance – Council is bringing damaged roads back to the condition they were in prior to the flood event.
“We have scheduled the work, in the hope and expectation that our claim for disaster repairs will be approved by Transport for NSW. The Natural Disaster Declaration is just the first step in that process.
Mr Macdonald said Council was also continuing to assess the damage to the road network as yet unaccounted for, while managing the existing business-as-usual road works schedule.
“It is vital that we allow sufficient time and resources to document this damage methodically so significant post-flood repairs will not be the burden of ratepayers,” he said.