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Anger in Pitt Town About Evacuation Route, By Pass

May 26, 2024

There is growing anger in Pitt Town that calls for upgrading its flood evacuation routes have so far been ignored by the government, and that work on a long-promised bypass will not commence until at least next year 

The population has tripled in the past 15 years so this has increased the number of residents who may need to evacuate from the area quickly in the case of  floods.

The regular evacuation route has tight bends and in many places it is difficult for vehicles to pass. The backup route has a locked gate, goes through part of a national park and is riddled with potholes, has no speed limits, and is usually only one-way. During the recent floods, the lock on the gate had been changed and the keys could not be located.

The Federal Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman has previously questioned how sensible it is to have a locked gate where only a limited number of people have a key “to be your key escape route from what could be a very fast-rising flood.”

The president of the Pitt Town Progress Association Chris Bell told the Post that the community has been pressing the NSW government for $10 million to upgrade flood evacuation routes.

“Hawkesbury City Council has been trying to get the follow up grant,’’ Bell said. Still, HCC’s record in progressing projects funded by the state government has been patchy with almost $100 million in funds for roads’ projects from the 2022 floods still either unspent or part spent.

State Member for Hawkesbury Robyn Preston said in a statement after the April flood: “Having a safe passage for more than 3,000 locals to escape floodwaters is essential, but this evacuation route needs an upgrade. The flood inquiry of 2022 recommended it be upgraded – which is estimated to cost around $12 million. I am calling on the Labor Government to fund this vital project.”

“We need a breakdown verge of a metre on either side  of the edge of the road. Our fire evacuation roads need to be fit for purpose and able to cope with the traffic, because the fire evacuation route  is normally a four tonne limit road,” Bell said.

“But during floods, all of our other roads are blocked off and trucks, including sewage treatment trucks that are taking water away from our sewage treatment plant are using that poor piece of road. The sides start to crumble and break away and we end up with the giant potholes that are filled with water. “

But while an “announcement” has been made by Roads Minister John Grahan in October 2023, tender documents for the project – which is only 1.5 kilometres – are not expected to be issued until at least the third quarter of this year.

“They’ve done the design, everything’s done. All they have to do is move in a bulldozer and start laying  bitumen. I’m to be told it’s taken nine months just to go out to tender when the tender documents must be a standard piece of paper that they use for every project. They would just reference the design that’s already been done. It’s just very frustrating, very frustrating,” Bell said.

The growing number of sand quarries on the other side of Pitt Town have seen 200 trucks a day pass through the town’s main street between 5am-5pm.

“This project has been talked about since the 1960s,” Bell said. “People living on the main drag  have had to put up with it. It wasn’t so bad 20 years ago, but the trucks have been there for 20 years. For the last 20 years every time the government approved another quarry, part of their dismissal of all the community concerns about the increased traffic was that these concerns will be irrelevant because of the pending bypass. And here we are 2024 and still no bypass”

A spokesman for Transport for NSW would only say: “The NSW Government has committed $100m towards the Pitt Town Bypass project.

“The project includes extending Pitt Town Road and adding two new roundabouts with a key focus on improving road safety, removing heavy vehicles from the town center and supporting the new residential development to the north of Pitt Town.”

Bell said that these delays made locals feel disenfranchised and disenchanted no which side of politics they were on “because it’s all smoke and mirrors until you see the bulldozer driving across the paddock.”

 

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