27 January 2023

Petition to fix 'unsafe' highway on Brown Mountain gains momentum

| Albert McKnight
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partially collapsed highway

The Snowy Mountains Highway on Brown Mountain has been unstable for many years, as seen in this picture from 2018. Photo: RMS.

Repairs have been announced for the highway on Brown Mountain, at a time when a petition calling for a commitment to fund the “unsafe” road is gaining momentum locally.

The part of the Snowy Mountains Highway that winds its way up the mountain was damaged during severe weather events in early 2022, Transport for NSW said.

Since then, the department has been investigating and designing solutions to repair several sites, with the first repairs to start next week.

But as far as Fix The Brown Inc coordinator Jon Gaul is concerned, these works are “purely cosmetic”.

“My sympathy is with the road crews who fight a losing battle on that road,” Mr Gaul said.

A Tura Beach resident, he estimates he has driven up or down the mountain about 700 times over 25 years and says it is “unsafe, unstable, unreliable and unsustainable”.

Mr Gaul said a physical petition on the issue, which his group started late last year, had already received 500 responses.

“We were surprised at the extent of community concern across the board,” he said.

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The petition calls for commitments from parties contesting the NSW election on 25 March to provide $15 million for an independent engineering feasibility study of the road.

It is hoped a report on such a study could be made public by June 2024.

“We need engineers to sit down and look at it and tell us what the options are,” Mr Gaul said.

He described the little funding that has been put into highways in the South East as a “drought”.

“We’ve been a poor cousin from parties from both sides for far too long,” he said.

Fix The Brown Inc’s petition is online and can be viewed by clicking on this link.

The current repairs to the Snowy Mountains Highway will start at three sites on Brown Mountain and aim to return this section of the road to its pre-disaster condition while also ensuring it is more resilient to severe weather in the future.

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A Transport spokesperson said the work would involve reinforcing failed slopes at the sites between Pipers Lookout and the Brown Mountain Power Station, which is about nine kilometres west of Bemboka.

“Design solutions are currently being developed for other sites also damaged during the severe weather events, with work on those expected to start later this year,” the spokesperson said.

The repairs will start on 31 January from 6 am to 6 pm on weekdays and are expected to be finished by early March.

Single-lane closures with traffic lights and a reduced speed limit of 40 km/h will be in place 24 hours a day.

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