Bump on road for upgrading
TWEED Shire council has thrown a spanner in the works for Lisa May, the Crystal Creek resident campaigning for the upgrade of Chilcotts Road.
As reported in the Tweed Daily News this week, Ms May wants to see the road widened and paved after her daughter was recently involved in a head-on car crash where she suffered a back injury.
Ms May said motorists often speed along the narrow gravel road, causing dust to fly up and impede the view of other drivers.
However, council's Manager Works, Ian Kite, said there were a number of reasons why the road was not being considered for paving, including the cost, traffic volume and lack of reported car crashes on the stretch of road.
"Council policy at present is that only gravel roads that are school bus routes will be considered for upgrading and sealing," Mr Kite said. "With close to 200km of unsealed roads being maintained, council does not have the funding base to consider upgrading all unsealed roads in current programs."
Mr Kite said maintenance works to the surface of Chilcotts Road would continue to be carried out in accordance with the funding and resources allocated for roads by council.
According to council, the current condition of the road is seen as sufficient for its traffic volume.
"Work was carried out last year to compact and reshape the gravel added during previous resheeting works," Mr Kite said. "As a result of these works the condition of Chilcotts Road is now considered adequate for the traffic volumes using the road."
Ms May said there have been countless accidents on the road, which she deems to be unsafe, including her daughter's and another more recent crash involving a family car being hit by a truck.
However, Mr Kite said information provided to council from the Roads and Traffic Authority suggested this was not the case.
"A review of reported crash data for Chilcotts Road identifies that from 2001 to June 2007 there was one reported crash," he said.
"The last traffic volume counts conducted in 2004 found that at the eastern end there were an average of 116 vehicles each day and 46 vehicles at the eastern end."
Ms May said the road had a heavy traffic flow from locals and tourists who use it as a shortcut to Chillingham. She said she believes people sometimes travel along the road at speeds of up to 100km/h.
One frustrated resident who lives on the road has taken it upon himself to tell drivers to slow down, erecting a sign saying "Slow down you bloody idiots".
A council spokeswoman said on advice from the RTA speed limits were generally not posted on gravel roads as the conditions could vary and drivers needed to drive to suit the conditions.
Ms May said she was not prepared to give up without a fight and has enlisted the support of Lismore MP Thomas George to assist her plight.
Mr George confirmed Ms May had contacted him and said he had made enquiries to council on her behalf.
"It is a complicated issue as it involves the extension of a bus route in addition to the road safety concerns," Mr George said. "While it is a matter for the Tweed Shire Council, I am very concerned about the safety issues that have been brought to my attention by Lisa May and the residents of Chilcotts Road."