Blue Mountains City Council will embark on a multi-million dollar project to seal up to 16 dirt and gravel roads after a cost/benefit analysis showed the upgrade would pay for itself over time through maintenance savings.
But the move — unanimously approved at the last council meeting — frustrated some Upper Mountains councillors and residents whose roads where overlooked in the first round of work.
The first list of roads to be sealed covers the Lower and Mid-Mountains areas exclusively.
“I’m reluctantly supporting this but Ward 1 gets absolutely nothing, Ward 2 only gets one or two [roads sealed, while] Ward 3 gets the most,” said Ward 2 Clr Chris Van der Kley.
“After this is all done, there are 73km [of unsealed roads] in Wards 1 and 2 that still need to be done.”
According to a council study, 12 per cent (86km) of Blue Mountains roads are unsealed and most of them are located in the Upper Mountains and the Megalong Valley, but they account for about 40 per cent — or close to $1 million — of council’s annual road surface maintenance budget.
A study identified that 16 Lower Mountains gravel roads could be sealed if council borrowed $2.16 million and the resulting savings in road maintenance would more than cover repayment of that loan.
The roads identified to be sealed include gravel and dirt sections of Old Bathurst Road in Woodford, Railway Parade in Linden, Chapman Parade in Faulconbridge, Farm, Paterson and Winter Roads in Springwood, Singles Ridge Road in Yellow Rock and Moore Street in Glenbrook.
An amendment by Ward 1 councillor Eleanor Gibbs was passed which commits council to sealing 14 of the proposed roads, while deferring a decision on sealing Grose and Jennings Roads in Faulconbridge until local residents are consulted.
A further report will identify other roads that could be sealed while the council will also make further attempts to secure extra funding through government grants.
Woodford resident Michael Galvin, who lives on Old Bathurst Road, welcomed the new road sealing program and looked forward to seeing his road upgraded.
“The drainage is so poor that the maintenance costs must be huge [for Old Bathurst Road],” he said. “My father re-christened that road the Bone Rattler.”
Wentworth Falls resident Stephen Price said he fully supported the proposal, “but we note that our area of the Blue Mountains (Henderson Road, Wentworth Falls) is not included”.
Mr Price said the silt run-off that occurs on dirt roads in his town was an environmental concern and sealing Henderson Road would have the added benefit of allowing the local bus service to potentially cover an extra three kilometres.