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Peter Cormick - 8 December 2015

Peter Cormick made the following comments in the Public Access Session at the Ordinary Council Meeting on 8 December 2015.

Non-agenda item: matters relating to Araluen Road

  1. On Monday, the 21st of September this year, I provided council with a copy of the written form of the presentation I was to make – and did make - on the following day. I provided an advance copy for the express purpose of enabling answers to be given to the questions I asked within it, on the day of my presentation.
  2. As it turned out, only the first question was addressed and the answer given was and is unsatisfactory. In fact the answer given seems to have been replaced by another answer, given on the radio. As to the remaining 7 questions, the mayor assured me that they would be answered after the meeting. That was 11 weeks ago. I have not even received an acknowledgement of this outstanding commitment. The big question is who is accountable to whom? Is council really accountable to the community it serves or is it – as seems clear to me - accountable only to itself?
  3. The questions are reproduced below.

a. Why, at the 12 October 2010 meeting referred to,  would councillors have not been provided with a copy of the relevant Coffey geotechnical report referred to and why would they have not been advised of the recommendation that “Council should consider imposing load restrictions” on sections of Araluen Road before making a decision on the matter?

b. Will council now consider imposing load restrictions as recommended by Coffey? If not, why?

c. It appears from the second paragraph of the 9 June 2009 Coffey report that Coffey, and possibly other consultants, have provided additional geo-technical reports to council – before and since -  concerning Araluen Road. Could I please be provided with digital copies of those reports – as I was the 9 June 2009 report?

d. Point 7 of Council’s Charter, at section 8 of the Local Government Act 1993, requires council “to bear in mind that it is the custodian and trustee of public assets and to effectively plan for, account for and manage the assets for which it is responsible”; and section 232 of the LGA requires councillors “to participate in the optimum allocation of the council’s resources for the benefit of the area ... [and] to represent the interests of the residents and ratepayers”. How does council reconcile these requirements with the obvious damage that will be done to the road by logging trucks – not to mention the significantly increased risks to residents’?

e. If the logging trucks are permitted to use the road as proposed by the Forestry Corporation and it is damaged as a consequence, would council accept that the costs of repair and the disruptions caused to residents by such damage as reasonably being born by the community?  If, as I hope, the answer is “no”, then, clearly, council is obliged to impose load restrictions that would prevent these trucks from using the road.

f. Could I please be provided with a digital copy of the monitoring program recommended by Coffey, referred to in paragraph 8 above?

g. Could I please be provided with a digital copy of the record of traffic volume counts for each of the shire’s unsealed roads – with the dates of those counts – over the past 5 years?

h. Given that councillors are now aware of the recommendation by Coffey to “consider imposing load restrictions”, would you not feel culpable should serious damage or injury, or worse, result from the proposed use of logging trucks? And would you not be leaving yourselves open to a legal suit, given the ‘foreseeability’ of such an event and the absence of ‘good faith’, that has been created by your awareness of this recommendation?

Council reply

Further to your representations to Council in non-agenda items on 22 September and 8 December 2015, the following information is provided.

The large sign at the Moruya end of Araluen Road advising that the road is narrow and is unsuitable for caravans, large vehicles and long loads is provided to discourage drivers of such vehicles from travelling along the unsealed section of Araluen Road.

Araluen Road is suitable to take the low volume of trucks including Council’s own trucks.

Your concerns relating to use of the road by vehicles working for Forestry NSW as part of the logging operations are noted.  Council has discussed the movement of vehicles associated with the logging operation with Forestry NSW who have taken a cooperative approach.  Forestry NSW has agreed at its own volition to the following additional measures:

  • Truck movements will not take place from 7.00-9.00am and 2.00-4.00pm, to ensure that trucks and the school bus are not travelling in opposite direction whilst the school bus is doing its round.
  • Truck movements utilising Araluen Road to travel back towards Moruya will go via Larrys Mountain Road, rather than using Araluen Road from the intersection of Larrys Mountain Road back to Moruya.
  • The speed of logging trucks on Araluen Road will be voluntarily limited to a maximum of 50km/hr with drivers advised to drive to the prevailing road conditions.
  • Forestry will implement appropriate signage to advise the community and road users when operations are taking place.
  • Forestry has voluntarily decided to implement additional traffic control measures to protect road users in the form of temporary traffic lights as identified on their Traffic Management Plan.

In relation to the issues you have raised regarding the stability of the road and the report by Coffey & Partners, the following information is provided.

The two sections of the road to the west of Badgerys Creek suffered damage in the February 2010 floods and was subsequently rebuilt.

All three sections of the road continue to be monitored by our maintenance team.  These sections continue to perform satisfactorily with routine maintenance undertaken as required.

It should be noted that Council did consider imposing a load restriction on this section of road but determined that to be impractical given the number of heavy vehicles using the road is very small, any reduction in risk is insignificant, there is no practical alternative for vehicles of this kind to access most of the properties along the road.

We also considered that the heaviest vehicles using this road, are in fact vehicles that Council itself uses to move plant, equipment and materials such as gravel to undertake works to maintain Araluen Road.

The load limit was further considered by our Local Traffic Committee (LTC) again in 2010.  The LTC consists of a representative of the local Member of Parliament, Police, the Roads and Maritime Services and Council.  The Coffey & Partners report was referenced in the material provided to the Local Traffic Committee and the Committee agreed not to impose a load limit on the road.  The outcome from the LTC was subsequently reported to and endorsed by Council. Therefore we confirm that Council does not support the imposition of a load limit on Araluen Road.

Council is happy to provide you with the following information on the traffic counts for Araluen Road, but not the entire record for the shire.

  • Near I-Ridge turnoff – approx. 150vpd
  • West of Larrys Mountain Road – 95vpd
  • West of McGregors Creek – 55vpd

The traffic counts of Tilba Punkally Road (at previous end of seal, now sealed) – 260vpd.

Council has an ongoing program of works to progressively improve Araluen Road over time and this year we have allocated $168,000 for gravel resheeting and other safety improvements which will be undertaken in early 2016.

Council has also made a claim under the Natural Disaster Relief Fund for approximately a further quarter of a million dollars to rectify damage caused during the August flood event and hope to hear back on this soon so we can also instigate these repair works in 2016.

Council will continue to monitor the performance of Araluen Road and to manage the risks to the community as it does with all of its road network commensurate with the use of the road.