Calls to fix road

Residents on Warrigal-Toms Creek Rd in Newry, Philip Maskrey and John Day, say they are tired of the poor condition of the road. Photo: Josh Farrell

Josh Farrell

For residents on Warrigal-Toms Creek Rd in Newry, their fight for improvements to the surface of their road with council will enter its 19th year in 2022.

The road itself has about 20 properties along it and services a number of satellite roads.

During long weekends, numbers climb dramatically as campers head into remote areas of the High Country.

Residents John Day and Philip Maskrey want the road to be rectified before they see a death out the front of their properties.

In the past six years, residents estimate eight vehicles have run off the road that they are aware of, because of little to no signage and poor road conditions.

“One women had her engine end up in the front seat with her when she had an accident and we had to get the air wing,” Mr Maskrey said.

The residents are fearful of what could happen in a medical emergency, and are worried that ambulances may not be able to make it to their homes.

“My wife has had to have ambulances up here, and with the condition the road is in now, they may not make it,” Mr Maskrey said.

Issues with the road were first raised by him in a letter to council in March of 2003, and a story appeared in the Gippsland Times in April of that year.

“We have been fighting for this for years and I may as well talk to that wall because they do not listen,” he said.

The road services five other roads which include Luckmans, Springs, Locks and Back Wombat roads, all of which have either been sealed or partially sealed.

“How can council have a budget surplus of $14.5 million but not have enough money to seal the road?” Mr Maskrey questioned.

Wellington Shire Council Mayor Ian Bye said roads such as Warrigal-Toms Creek did not get enough traffic to be sealed by council.

“While many residents would understandably like their road to be sealed, any work like that has to take into account a range of factors, such as traffic volumes,” Cr Bye said.

“Warrigal-Toms Creek Rd has relatively low usage, and council therefore has no plan to seal it.”

Residents and the Gippsland Times have asked to see the road counter numbers, but council did not respond to these requests.

“They did their counting in the middle of the week – they should see how many cars come up this road over the holiday period,” Mr Maskrey said.

Property owners along Warrigal-Toms Creek Rd are now seeing damage to the road which they say is making it almost impassable, especially for quarry trucks that regularly use the road.

“I watched one of the quarry trucks go through it and he nearly didn’t make it,” Mr Maskrey said.

It is unclear what caused a portion of the road to collapse by almost half a metre, but Cr Bye said it was commonplace after storms.

“Unfortunately, in the last six months we have been hit by several major weather events which caused flooding, landslips and significant damage across our road network,” Cr Bye said.

“Council is continuing to work through a long list of roads requiring work to be done as a result of heavy rainfall, and there are other roads which need repairing before Warrigal-Toms Creek Rd.”

Residents on Warrigal-Toms Creek Rd have looked to residents in Coongulla who entered
into a special charge scheme with council to get their road sealed.

A special charge scheme is a contributory scheme where residents put in their own money towards sealing and road improvements, with council making up the remainder.

The residents on Warrigal-Toms Creek Rd reluctantly approached council with this proposal, but it was rejected.

“There is no provision within the Residential Road and Street Construction plan for rural roads and as such, a special charge scheme for Warrigal-Toms Creek Rd is not able to be
considered,” a council spokesperson said in a response to Mr Day.

These residents do not have a bin service provided by council, there is no library in Newry and no pool close by that they can use, like many residents within Wellington Shire.

“We pay our rates and all we get is a road and council will not even spend the money to fix it,” Mr Maskrey said.

“We worked out with all of the rates that people pay on this road, it would be enough
to seal and improve the road.”

The residents say they are beginning to be cut off from other communities.