3 August 2021

Constance says Kings Highway closure plans 'too harsh'

| Kim Treasure
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Road signs and passing car on Kings Highway

A proposal for lengthy closures of the Kings Highway at Clyde Mountain for the removal of trees has business owners up in arms. Photo: Supplied.

NSW Minister for Transport Andrew Constance has called for a rethink of a proposal to close the main road linking Canberra with the South Coast during work hours for four days a week for more than two months from the end of August 2021.

The closure, to allow important road safety work on Kings Highway, has sparked uproar in the community, with business owners from Braidwood to Batemans Bay warning it could be the final straw following drought, bushfires and COVID-19.

Work to remove 400 bushfire-damaged roadside trees under the current proposal would see Kings Highway at Clyde Mountain closed from River Forest Road to Misty Mountain Road, Monday to Thursday between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm, from Monday, 30 August, to mid-November, weather permitting.

Business owners say the timing could hardly be worse, coinciding with the start of spring and cutting off the region from Canberra during a time when Sydney trade is non-existent because of ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns.

READ MORE Businesses call for rethink on Kings Highway closure as communities suffer

Mr Constance responded on social media, saying the proposed scheduling is “too harsh”.

“While everyone knows the importance of upgrades and maintenance on Kings Highway, the proposed scheduling of closures is too harsh for our community at this time,” he said.

“I’ve asked Transport for NSW in Wollongong to immediately review this and re-engage with Eurobodalla Shire Council and business chambers on a compromise solution.

“[NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads) Paul Toole needs to also get involved here and have his agency sort this out. I understand a representation went to him from council.”

An arborist has identified about 400 trees on the Clyde Mountain section of Kings Highway that are unstable and need to be removed after being burnt during the Black Summer bushfires and then weathering floods and storms.

READ MORE Motorists warned daily Kings Highway closures will continue for months

Online reaction to the proposed closures has been mixed, with most people recognising the need for work to keep the highway safe and accessible, but many questioning the timing, coming at the start of the traditional spring tourism season rather than during the winter months.

Concerns have also been expressed about the impact the full road closures will have on NSW South Coast residents seeking medical treatment in Canberra, with the route north via the Hume Highway, Picton Road and Princes Highway potentially adding up to 7.5 hours of travel time depending on the road user’s origin and destination.

The alternative route south via the Monaro Highway, Snowy Mountains Highway and Princes Highway could add up to 5.5 hours of travel time depending on the road user’s origin and destination.

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Noal Annabel6:51 pm 06 Aug 21

What’s wrong with using the princess highway and Turpentine Road and going through Nerriga it only adds about 40 minutes to the trip.

Because if they just do that it would be to easy and they want to scare everyone at most to Canberra extra 40 min via serpentine Rd to oallenford Rd then through tarragon to Canberra not 5 hours extra at all

Diane Holmes10:05 pm 09 Aug 21

I would like to know what your driving to do it in 40 minutes. Batemans Bay to Turpentine Rd is 104kms then another 103kms via Neriga Rd to Braidwood

Some thoughts. SAFETY!!! And more delay if tree falls on road (and vehicle) or landship – see some of the recent photos of Brown Mtn!

Why not use local forestry workers &/or other contractors and resources to add to the workforce and complete the job more quickly (clearing forests/local ‘parks’ can wait)?

Most traffic occurs over weekends and school/punlic hols – and the road will be open after hours – so Braidwood cafes adjust your trading hours. And it is getting lighter as winter pases – DAYLIGHT savings is coming

The Nerriga road has not been mentionad – quicker than alternatives noted – about 3.5 hours travel.

Raises the further question of access generally – Clyde and Brown Mtns are limited in capacity and as demonstrated recently subject to closure – climate change will bring more probility of such events.

Is it time to open a route through Araluen – existing road is in a pathetic state and locals’ is often often blocked?

I say this as one who travels between Canberra and the Bay regularly and will be quite affected by the closure.

Well Mr. Constance you are the Minister, do something about it.
You were all over the reopening of the Kings Highway after the fires, as if you had done all the repair work yourself, so now actually prove your worth, rather than bleating about it.

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