Wheatbelt roads receive government visit

31 Jan, 2015 01:00 AM
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THE cost of putting more grain on roads will escalate across the Wheatbelt in coming years.

This is the message the Wheatbelt Rail Retention Alliance (WRRA) sent to a contingent of Department of Transport (DoT) and Mains Roads employees who visited Quairading recently.

The tour, run by WRRA co-ordinator Jane Fuchsbichler and her counterparts, included a trip in an ambulance and truck, followed by a visit to the local CBH bin and concluded with images of damaged Wheatbelt roads.

"We tried to put on their agenda the hidden costs that we've been saying haven't been taken into account," she said.

The Quairading to York and Trayning to Merredin Tier 3 rail lines were closed in 2013 and road safety was immediately brought into question.

Grain from the Quairading bin is now trucked out of the site, either straight to Kwinana, or to Cunderdin to be loaded onto rail.

Since this time residents, the WRRA and WAFarmers have expressed concern on numerous occasions that lives would be put at risk as truck traffic increased.

Ms Fuchsbichler said she received regular complaints and photos from people across the Wheatbelt of their deteriorating roads.

It is for this reason the WRRA invited the contingent of DoT and Main Roads employees for an on-site visit.

She said the WRRA was receiving complaints from ambulance patients about the state of the roads adding discomfort to their trip and this was why the tour included an ambulance ride.

Ms Fuchsbichler said the truck trip to the Quairading CBH bin illustrated the road surface in a truck and safety issues as semi-trailers met cars on narrow and deteriorating roads.

The group was also able to illustrate the lost capacity of local infrastructure as rail outloading facilities that can load a train in two hours were wasted and grain was double handled to reach port by road and rail formats.

"In the process of outloading without rail we can damage our grain, we can downgrade our grain, we can cause seepage and we can turn Malt barley into feed," she said.

"The cost borne by the growers and local government is significant.

"We showed them photos from roads all over the place from where the roads have been upgraded and of course some of (the upgrades) have lasted only three weeks to three months.

"Recent upgrades are crumbling now and we haven't even got the grain out yet."

A DoT spokesperson said the trip allowed staff to liaise with stakeholders about the State Government's role in grain freight and participate in discussions about their concerns in regards to road maintenance, safety issues and rail network leasing arrangements.

"The Main Roads Wheatbelt region is undertaking weekly inspections of the declared CBH haulage routes and undertaking traffic counts on local roads," the spokesperson said.

"The data, combined with Shires' maintenance records, will be able to be used in future to determine the impact of grain freight on the roads."

The spokesperson said any road maintenance would focus on safety and asset protection and any recent road work deterioration would be subject to a defect liability period and would be repaired at the contractor's cost.

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