The announcement of a contribution of $300m for an unsealed road package to be administered by Cardinia and Yarra Ranges Shire Councils has been strongly applauded by Cockatoo 21st Century Roads Action Group (CRAG21).
CRAG21 has raised several road issues with both major parties in recent months.
“We have long believed there is a very strong case for governments to contribute to addressing the backlog of unsealed roads in Cockatoo, but the scale of this announcement is beyond what we had hoped,” CRAG21spokeswoman Sue Wales said.
“We also acknowledge it is the first time a major party has committed to contributing federal funds to an initiative of this type.
“Cockatoo is probably the largest town in Victoria (population 4200) where over 40 kilometres of the council roads in residential areas remain unsealed. The steepest local roads require four-wheel drive vehicles for safe passage during parts of the year.”
Caroline Avenue is a very high priority as it is unsealed and is the main access to the primary school with 250 pupils.
Other unsealed roads are carrying 500 cars and trucks daily.
“These are numbers which are inappropriate in the modern world,” Ms Wales said.
“Sealing these roads will be a major boost to health, safety and amenity.
“School children have to walk on the road surface in dust in summer and among potholes in winter because there are no footpaths and deep open drains are a roadside hazard, block frequently and are inadequate to stop flooding of properties on the low side of many of the road reserves.”
Sue Wales said, “Sealing the streets will also allow control of excessive speeds through traffic calming actions such as speed humps or diversionary kerbing.
“While the majority of drivers recognise that 50km/h is too fast on many unsealed roads, speeds in excess of 90km/h have been recorded on occasions.
“Traffic calming is not viable on unsealed roads because of the frequent need for maintenance grading.”
Dust is an increasing concern as residents become more aware of the health risks associated with stone dust being linked to silicosis in some industries.
“We don’t know the composition of the dust from the unsealed roads and the Victorian EPA doesn’t appear to have the issue under consideration,” she added.
The commitment to work with the councils using federal, council and property owners’ funding to attack the backlog and bring the roads into the 21st century will mark a transition for many communities.
“We are also lobbying Labor about its position on the unsealed road issues and are confident it will also recognise the issues CRAG21 has raised and the importance of supporting strong action to address the highest priority unsealed roads,” she said.