Deniliquin Pastoral Times
Council commits to seal road
Murray River Council has set its sights on obtaining funding to seal the final 22km unsealed section of Perricoota Rd between Moama and Barham.
Raised as a notice of motion at the council meeting last Tuesday by Cr Geoff Wise, the council heard deputations from community members urging for the road to be sealed.
Jo and Don Hearn own agri-tourism business Restdown Wines, located on the unsealed section of Perricoota Rd.
‘‘My husband and I have witnessed and attended to a number of accidents,’’ Mrs Hearn said.
‘‘Countless vehicles have come to grief in wet and dry conditions, weaving out of control and rolling on gravel bends, losing traction in the wet and careening into our fences and gateways and roadside trees.
‘‘The Bunnaloo school bus uses the road; safe passage along this route all year round for our most vulnerable members in the community should not be jeopardised.’’
She said access all year round in all weather was vital for the 30 businesses on or in the area of the unsealed section of road.
‘‘Ask any of these businesses and I’m sure they’ll have many instances where they’ve had to cancel business deliveries . . . due to the impassable state of the road; costing time and money,’’ she said.
John Douglas runs a farming business with his father on Perricoota Rd and has lived and worked there for 59 years.
‘‘This road has been neglected for most of my driving life, with only the bare minimum maintenance required to keep locals quiet,’’ he said.
‘‘I have two daughters that have come to grief on this road, one of them twice — fortunately they were not physically hurt.
‘‘The state of the road and a lack of maintenance prompted me to move my family to Moama; I could not let them drive it anymore for my peace of mind.’’
Mayor Chris Bilkey said the council agreed to put extra efforts into gaining funding for the delivery of the project.
He said significant benefits would flow from having a fully sealed, direct link between Moama and Barham.
‘‘The current state of the unsealed section of road no doubt discourages motorists from using the route at all,’’ he said.
‘‘But as the most direct route between our major towns and with a number of tourism business located along it, there would certainly be benefits in sealing the remaining section of road from both a business and community connectedness perspective.’’
Cr Bilkey said the challenge for council would be the ongoing maintenance costs longer term.
‘‘At this stage it’s about gaining the capital upfront funds to get the works done, then as a council we need to consider the ongoing maintenance costs in our overall road network budget,’’ he said.
‘‘This will become clearer when we get full cost estimates and ratios.’’
Council director for operations and major projects Scott Barber told councillors it would cost about $282,000 a year to look after the extra 22km of road if it was sealed.
‘‘If we seal it, we’ll need to find that additional money,’’ he said.
‘‘We all want the sealed road, there’s no misunderstanding there, it’s about the sustainability of it because we need to be able support all the roads for all the ratepayers for the whole council.’’
The council resolved that the sealing of the 22km unsealed section of Perricoota Rd was a priority and asked chief executive Terry Dodds to do all that was necessary to obtain funds to complete the works by June 30, 2025.