A community group has blasted what it sees as government inaction after there was yet another landslip on the part of the highway that snakes its way up Brown Mountain.
This part of the Snowy Mountains Highway is no stranger to landslips, rockfalls or repairs, as many motorists will tell you. Another landslide on Saturday (2 December) was still affecting traffic this week.
The Fix The Brown campaign has called for governments to fund a $15 million expert engineering study of Brown Mountain to recommend how to upgrade to a safe link or to identify a viable alternative route up the Great Dividing Range.
“They found $4 billion for the ‘spaghetti junction’ Rozelle Interchange in Sydney, [which] just opened amid confusion,” campaign co-ordinator Jon Gaul said of government inaction on the highway.
“But they can’t rake up a modest $7.5m each for a $15m expert, external engineering study to work out how to fix the notorious Brown Mountain road.”
The highway provides an important link between Canberra and the Monaro to the Far South Coast.
The next options motorists could use are Mount Darragh Road, which is to the south via Pambula, or Kings Highway, which is much further north via Batemans Bay.
“Saturday’s latest landslip will impact important summer tourism access to the Sapphire Coast as well as essential fuel and retail and wholesale supplies, vital health access to Canberra, education, agriculture and friends and relatives’ visitation,” Mr Gaul said.
He claimed the recent incident occurred exactly where attempts at stabilisation took place in 2020.
“Temporary band-aid solutions don’t address public safety,” he said.
Liberal candidate for Eden-Monaro Joanne van der Plaat said the Albanese Government should be looking to declare this part of the highway a ‘road of strategic importance’ so it could get the federal funding it needed.
“Everyone on the South Coast and the Monaro knows the importance of Brown Mountain during the Black Summer fires, where it remained open at times when many other transport routes were cut,” Ms van der Plaat said.
“This is just another example of the Albanese Labor Government’s lack of focus on the needs of the regions.”
Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain said the weekend’s landslip was frustrating for all of those who used the highway.
“It’s clear there needs to be some long-term planning for Brown Mountain, which is a state-owned highway,” she said.
“I’ve recently written to the NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, Jenny Aitchison and the Federal Minister Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development & Local Government, Catherine King, calling for the investigation of long-term, viable options for Brown Mountain.
“I will continue to advocate for upgrades to this strategically important road and improved safety for road users.”
Mr Gaul claimed that as part of his campaign, in May 2023, Ms McBain, Member for Monaro Steve Whan and Member for Bega Michael Holland wrote a joint letter to the NSW Roads Minister detailing Brown Mountain issues and appealing for action.
Fix The Brown has also started a petition calling for a commitment to fund the “unsafe” road.
This week, Mr Gaul said the petition had received 730 online signatures as well as 350 physical ones from people in places like markets.
“It’s clear from the comments we’re getting from online and personally that this is a community issue of concern and people want to see some action,” he said.
He said the Fix The Brown group would continue to source signatures for their petition and would also look at fundraising to create signage.