Rex Range road rage not over by Christ­mas

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

LO­CALS are fu­ri­ous that the Rex Range road will be re-opened for Christ­mas.

They’re not cranky that the road will be re­turned to a two-way street nine months af­ter a rock fall.

They’re in­censed the Depart­ment of Trans­port and Main Roads hasn’t done any­thing to fix the road, and is putting off per­ma­nent works un­til next year.

“We’ve been able to sta­bilise the slope for the com­ing months,” a spokesper­son for the depart­ment said.

“We’ve planned to fully re­ha­bil­i­tate the hill­side so that these in­con­ve­nient and lengthy clo­sures are a thing of the past.”

The spokesper­son said tem­po­rary works would al­low the road to open to two-way traf­fic “in time for the busy hol­i­day sea­son”.

“These works in­volve the in­stal­la­tion of a two-me­tre-high mass de­briscatch­ing sys­tem, de­signed to en­sure any loose de­bris falls within a con­crete catch­ment area and not in the path of on­com­ing traf­fic,” the spokesper­son said.

“What busy hol­i­day sea­son?” asked Justin Ras­mussen, a lo­cal cane farmer who has spent too much time wait­ing at the only traf­fic lights in the for­mer Dou­glas Shire.

“We’ll be fin­ished haul­ing cane by then, and the tourists aren’t driv­ing around north Queens­land at Christ­mas.

“And I don’t know when these jok­ers been work­ing on the road.

“Our crew are up and down that track 24 hours a day and none of us have seen any­one in months.”

A re­tired lo­cal en­gi­neer said he was shocked the road had been re­duced to one lane through the tra­di­tional win­ter build­ing sea­son and the depart­ment was only now be­lat­edly re-open­ing the road.

“Ab­surd,” was his as­sess­ment of the depart­ment’s con­tention that the slip re­quired care­ful man­age­ment.

“An ex­ca­va­tor could take care of most of the loose stuff, then you need to scat­ter some seeds to reveg­e­tate the slope and di­vert wa­ter around it so it doesn’t wash away.

“If this had hap­pened in the mid­dle of Bris­bane, it would have taken nine days, not nine months.”

The depart­ment said the road’s lo­ca­tion in a Wet Trop­ics World Her­itage Area ne­ces­si­tated close co­or­di­na­tion with the Wet Trop­ics Man­age­ment Author­ity.

How­ever, the depart­ment has not yet sub­mit­ted an ap­pli­ca­tion to WTMA to carry out the per­ma­nent sta­bil­i­sa­tion works.

The for­mer Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil scat­tered seeds across the slope ten years ago to al­low ground cover plants to sta­bilise the slope.

Those plants were re­moved in Jan­uary, one month be­fore heavy rains caused the slope to crum­ble.

“It’s been well-known for 15 years this slope was likely to slip,” the re­tired en­gi­neer said.

“Scrap­ing the slope clear of veg­e­ta­tion never looked like a bright idea.”

The DTMR in­sists it has no records of any veg­e­ta­tion clear­ing tak­ing place on the road in Jan­uary.

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