Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance chairman and Quairading farmer Greg Richards said the alliance told the State Government five years ago grain routes like the failed Quairading-Cunderdin Road would not work.HOT weather combined with loaded trucks has caused the closure of the Quairading-Cunderdin Road for a month because of road damage.
Cunderdin Shire chief executive Peter Naylor said a temporary road closure for all heavy vehicles, except local vehicles, was imposed on Wednesday last week for a month because of safety concerns.
“The reason for the road closure is severe structural damage to the road surface and sub-surface from continual heavy vehicle movements over the past week during periods of extreme weather conditions,” Mr Naylor said in a notice on the shire’s website.
“This has resulted in a number of pavement failures, including pavement side movement and deep rutting.
“Council believes this damage is an extreme safety hazard for other vehicular traffic on the road.”
He said the temporary closure to heavy traffic would allow the shire council time to have an independent engineering report prepared and presented to Main Roads WA “for financial assistance to carry out maintenance repairs”.
Mr Naylor also said the road failure had occurred “30,000 tonnes into an 80,000-tonne program” shifting grain.
Trucks were now carting the grain from Quairading to York instead of Cunderdin, which was the CBH Group’s preferred location because it is a quick-fill rail site on the standard gauge line to Kwinana Port, he said.
Mr Naylor said the Quairading-Cunderdin Road was upgraded in 2012 under the Grain Freight Network Program.
It is classed as a local road and remains the shire’s responsibility to maintain, however the shire could only afford to allocate funds for “minor day-to-day maintenance”, not enough to cover the repair of the damaged sections, he said.
The damage was to be assessed by an independent engineer on Tuesday.
WAFarmers president Dale Park said the closure of the road to heavy vehicles was “a wake up call for the State Government”.
“This highlights what WAFarmers and the Shire of Quairading has been saying all along,” Mr Park said.
“The closure of the Tier 3 rail lines is having, and will continue to have, a negative impact on rural roads which are being forced to bear loads which they were never built to carry.”
Mr Park said WAFarmers continues to await the Government’s response to the Economics and Industry Standing Committee report into the management of the State’s grain freight network which was tabled in October.
Quairading Shire chief executive Graeme Fardon said his council supported Cunderdin Shire’s move to close the road.
“It’s been closed for safety reasons,” he said.
“I should point out that we’ve still got two corners on our end of that road to realign.
“We have funding to do one and we’ve sought more funding to do the second corner.
“Our position has always been that grain should remain on rail at least until the road is completed to a grains-road standard.”
Quairading grower and Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance (WRRA) chairman Greg Richards said the Quairading-Cunderdin Road was an example of “local people not being listened to”.
“How much more evidence do they State Government) need that grain should go on rail wherever possible,” Mr Richards said.
“It’s almost five years to the day that we (WRRA) told them that it (grains roads proposal to replace low-volume Tier 3 grain rail lines) would not work.
“You would think that the sensible thing to do would be to ask local people what their opinion was and to listen to what they had to say.
“I’m just back from holidays and I haven’t seen it (road damage) yet, but from what I hear they’ve (grain trucks) made a fair mess of it.”
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