Rex Range road rage not over by Christmas
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.