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Hole lot of issues – residents turn to social media in bid to get roads repaired

May 31, 2022

Two months after the floods, the Hawkesbury is still peppered with large and dangerous potholes and stretches of severely damaged almost unusable roads, with some residents finding the only way to get Hawkesbury Council to take action is to call them out on social media.


On Friday, Upper Colo residents took to Facebook after the Council said in its weekly round-up that Comleroy Rd had been repaired, which simply wasn’t true.


Paul Bryant who is one of the most level-headed blokes you’ll ever meet – he’s Captain of the Upper Colo RFS – was well over it all and said, “a resident called [Council] today after the Facebook post from Council informed us that Comleroy Rd was complete only to be told by the customer service officer, “that it was listed as done on the website and she could list 10 other roads that need attention too”.


That attitude – and totally incorrect information from Council staff – is far from helpful and it’s not the first time we have heard of this sort of interaction. What would have been helpful? Firstly, some accurate information, and secondly, some work on the badly damaged sections of road, oh and perhaps a slightly better attitude on the phone to people who are exhausted and stressed.


Talking of stressed, let’s not forget some Hawkesbury residents are still waiting for the Council to finish road repairs from over a year ago after the 2021 floods – Greens Rd in Lower Portland is still not reopened, Upper Colo Bridge has not been replaced yet, and repairs to devastated Cornwallis are now a joint operation between Council and the State’s Public Works Authority after Council failed to properly repair a drain in 2021.


“The community is running out of options,” Mr Bryant’s wife, Kristi told the Post on the weekend when we went to have a look first hand at Comleroy Rd.


“Resorting to social media seems to be the only way some residents are getting any response from Hawkesbury Council on when their roads are getting repaired.”


Kristi Bryant at just one damaged section of Comleroy Rd which she uses daily


“I’m reporting these issues, twice a week at the moment. My back hurts [from the daily drive on a busted up road]. Kids don’t want to go to school. No services will respond to this area, Council can’t clean the campground so rubbish is everywhere, and people get stuck IN the road every day.”


Frankly, Comleroy Rd should have been closed, it is so dangerous, and is only accessible by serious four-wheel drive vehicles, and only then extremely slowly and carefully.


But it’s the only useable road – and it’s barely that – for many locals.


Comleroy Rd this last weekend


“We’ve been using any channel available to us to try and get a result,” an increasingly frustrated Mrs Bryant told the Post.


She has to use the road every weekday to take her children to school, but so arduous and traumatising is the journey her youngsters no longer want to go.


Mrs Bryant, like her husband, is very resilient but clearly the situation is taking a toll on all residents in the area.


“I understand there are many roads that need attention in the Hawkesbury, but the response from Council has been poor,” Mrs Bryant said.


Mr Bryant said on Friday, “the flood was in March and we are still dealing with dangerous roads. This is a section of Comleroy Rd that some people use four times a day or more to get to and from school drop offs, get to work, or travel to town. Upper Colo Rd, Hulbert Rd and Crabtree Gully Rd are no better and are deteriorating fast. Not sure why council can’t assist us with some basic services (even fill in some ruts and potholes). Anyone got any thoughts on how we can get some action? I’m out of ideas.”


Comleroy Rd this weekend


Businesses in the area are also suffering, not least because GPS sends out-of-area holidaymakers and visitors along Comleroy Rd, as Jane McLaren pointed out in the social media discussion. Ms McLaren runs a guesthouse in the area.


“I’m sooooo over this,” she said.


“Every customer that arrives here is shaken and in disbelief about the roads.

Guests often don’t follow the directions sent to them and use GPS which sends them down a 4WD only road (Comleroy) or to a terrible road and broken bridge (Colo Heights Rd).


“Even the ones that make it through Upper Colo Rd are stressed and upset by the time they arrive.


“Running a business and general everyday running around is impossible and downright dangerous. Hawkesbury City Council has failed its residents.”


There are several issues with the way Council is tackling the damaged roads situation, not least that repairs are taking so long and residents often have no clear idea when a repair will start or likely finish.


The meagre reporting Council offers residents on the current status of road repairs is leaving many frustrated, including all those who have reported potholes and other road damage over and over again and are not seeing them even feature on the weekly list, which incidentally is not even shared with local media.


Clearly, residents should not have to rely on shaming Council on social media or through local media, just to get some action, but that most definitely is what it looks like.


In most disaster situations – and remember the Hawkesbury was given that official designation after this year’s floods – the local council would at the very least have regular media briefings, which would be an opportunity for us to ask questions on behalf of residents, but not this Council.


Last week, we put a post up about the potholes in Coles North Richmond car park. They had been there for many weeks and locals had complained regularly, but seen no action. The day following our story, Council filled them in.


Following Friday’s social media pleas from Upper Colo residents and the well publicised visit from two councillors up there, today Council announced details on their Facebook page about repairs to Comleroy Rd.


“Temporary pavement [that means road] reconstruction is required in certain locations to enable safe passage of vehicles along the road,” they said.


No kidding.


“The pavement would include a maximum of 200 mm of fine crushed rock and cleaning the table drain.”


Okay, but aside from saying that will begin tomorrow – Wednesday – once again there is no timeline. In the same post they say a tender process finishes on June 14 for full reconstruction. We’ll be keeping an eye on that one.


Several damaged roads are not mentioned at all on Council’s latest roads’ update, and repairs are often not taking place when Council say they are.


Here’s their mention about Spinks Rd, Glossodia, as an example:

“Spinks Road, Glossodia – Work on scour underway. Pothole repairs continued this week. The road will require further assessment for permanent repair.”


Where is that exactly? Is that the severely damaged section where Spinks Rd joins Kurmond Rd, or somewhere else along Spinks Rd? Because there’s been no recent work on that junction – we use it every day – and you need the skills of a downhill slalom skier to avoid the numerous potholes there, including an ability to safely drive on the wrong side of the road for a while.


How about this on Kurmond Rd?

“Road failure restoration was completed last week”.


What does that actually mean? We’ve restored it so it won’t fail? Honestly, if that’s Council’s idea of restoration of a road there’s little hope we’ll get a properly finished road any time soon. There are numerous dangerous potholes all the way along this road.


Grose River Rd – What strikes us about this Council information below is it lacks any useful timing, and there is a large section which is now not a road by any definition we’ve ever seen, and it’s been like this for months.


“Damages assessed, maintenance work to shoulders to be scheduled. Permanent repairs have been escalated due to failures of temporary repairs as a result of continued wet weather.”


Grose River Rd this weekend – the smooth bit of ‘road’ is where drivers have gone off road to avoid the damaged section of actual road. Timeline for repairs? There isn’t one…


Redbank Rd, North Richmond:

“Drive to conditions and follow the road hazard warning signs.”


Driving to the road conditions means driving on the other side of the road on a blind bend. Council have filled the potholes previously but clearly their motto is not, ‘Do it once and do it right’.


Redbank Rd, North Richmond – just one of the many potholes on this road which have previously been filled with tar by Council


Let’s look at some of the potholes not on the Council’s list


Greggs Rd, Kurrajong


This is a monster of a pothole. Where is it exactly? Right next to the centre line, so if you don’t know this road and you’re driving in the dark you’re looking at the very least at a new wheel and tyre. We cannot believe this one has been left like this, and it’s been like this for a month or more and getting steadily worse.


Grose Vale Rd, just up from Enniskillen Orchard


The picture doesn’t really do this crater justice. This one has been getting steadily worse and means drivers need to once again drive as if they are in Europe, yes they need to be on the other side of the road to miss this one. UPDATE – just this afternoon the Council has filled this one. It’s not exactly a state of the art finish, but better than nothing….for a while at least.


Grose Vale Rd – just up from Kurrajong


Another one which has been reported and reported and it still hasn’t been filled in. Again, to avoid it you need to hug the grass or straddle the white line, though to be fair, since this road was resurfaced many months ago Council still haven’t white-lined it, though perhaps leave that a bit longer and just get the hole filled in, folks.


We know there are many, many more potholes and degraded roads out there, and yes Council have a big job on their hands, and contractors are in short supply because many areas statewide have issues, but in many cases residents would be a lot happier if proper timelines were given, and if those slip then an explanation why would be good, and communication skills could do with a bit of attention too.


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