The Santos gas pipeline access road into the valley.
The Santos gas pipeline access road into the valley.

Vital land links in need of repair

THE Central Highlands Regional Council’s 2010/11 flood-damaged roads bill stands at $72 million and counting.

The figure was submitted to the Queensland Reconstruction Authority on Friday, March 19, and civil operations general manager Bill Turner expects it to rise as council argues for priority roads to be restored to engineering standards.

Some $2.5 million of that has been earmarked for the hard-hit Arcadia Valley.

A submission from landowners tabled at council last Monday identified Clematis Creek, Arcadia Valley Rd and Mulcahys Rd as vital land links in need of urgent repair to keep the agricultural and grazing region in the former Bauhinia Shire functional.

A flooded Clematis Creek closed the northern outlet of the valley for five months last year.

“There is no doubt the Arcadia Valley is an important link, there’s absolutely no contest there,” Mr Turner said.

“The $1.5 million I originally put in this report is now closer to $2.5 million.

“While it is unrealistic to restore every road to engineering standards… we have got to restore strategic roads.”

Mr Turner said graziers would be given four to six weeks to get cattle off properties before any work began necessitating road closures.

The Clematis Creek upgrade with new culverts will be purposefully designed to overtop in a flooding event.

“We want to improve it, but not make it too good because we don’t want it used as a bypass when Deep Channel goes over,” Mr Turner said.

“These roads were built many years ago and are not suitable for current needs. They were never intended for large vehicles such as road trains.

“If coal seam gas or mines want those roads usable 100% of the time, fine, let them pay for the upgrade to the whole length of the road, not just the floodplains.”

Sixty people live south of Clematis Creek on 19 properties along the Arcadia Valley Rd, and the submission pointed to the urgency of remedial works to enable essentials like food and fuel to get through, as well as moving cattle out for income.

“We have bills to pay, flood repairs to mend, kids to go to school... we need fuel, supplies, mail, services and maintenance,” the submitters said.

They offered council their solution of raising the Clematis Creek crossing by two metres using taller and wider culverts to “solve the problem for 20 years or more”.

Mr Turner said a problem also to be addressed in discussions with Arcadia Valley landowners was cultivation and cropping encroaching on road reserves.

“We need to look at having some sort of buffer between vegetation and the road,” Mr Turner said.

Councillor Ross Rolfe said the problem needed to be looked at as a policy issue.

“Vegetation (on road reserves) is widespread across the region and in the dry season it is not an issue, but it definitely is now,” he said.

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