Residents rattled over dirt road

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Pakenham Upper residents have grown increasingly concerned about the state of Huxtable Road and the safety of drivers with one long-time resident saying this year is the “worst” he had seen the road’s condition.

The council received about 45 complaints regarding the dirt road’s surface in the past six months.

Concerns have risen since a 24-year-old woman was killed on the road after she lost control of her car in 2008 and hit a tree near Hoyles Road.

Residents said traffic on the 100km/h dirt road had increased over the years and was often used as a shortcut to and from Emerald.

Residents George, 75, and Kay Smith, 68, have lived in Bayard Drive for about 10 years and have contemplated moving because of the problem.

“It’s a real pain. I drive out and there’s a big pothole at the end of my street as soon as I turn into Huxtable Road and it gets on your nerves. It puts you in a bad mood for the rest of the day,” Mr Smith said.

“The council grades the road and in a few days it’s as rattly as ever. It deteriorates so quickly.

“There are horse floats that travel up and down. The horses must be dancing in there – it’s so bumpy and so rough, especially down the south end of the road.”

Mr Smith said people often drive on the wrong side of the road to avoid the corrugation.

“Some people plant their feet on the accelerator around the bends and that’s when the corrugation gets even worse. They’re almost airborne while they speed down,” he said.

“It’s dangerous. I would hate to see another tragedy happen. I’ve had a couple of near misses myself.

“It would be good if they put in some speed signs to slow people around the bends.”

Other local residents, including Freda O’Gorman and Wayne Rogers, said their cars were being damaged by driving along the road.

Resident Rosemary Buczak supported improved grading around the first S bend in the road, but was against the road being changed to bitumen.

“Personally I want to be able to ride my horse down the road and enjoy a rural atmosphere,” she said.

“This was one of the main aspects of our choice to live in this area.”

Long-time resident Naomi McAntee said she had regularly contacted the council for years to improve the grading maintenance regime.

“Huxtable Road needs deep grading and all they’re doing is scratching the surface.”

Cardinia Shire Council operations co-ordinator Mark Howard said corrugations in the road have recently increased due to a long stretch of unseasonably dry weather.

“The road signs along Huxtable Road were recently reviewed. They were found to be suitable for the road and complied with Australian Standard specifications.

“These standards advise against having advisory speed signs along unsealed roads because conditions on these roads change regularly and quickly,” Mr Howard said.

“While council works hard to ensure unsealed roads are in a satisfactory condition, motorists should always adjust their driving to suit the conditions of the road.”

The council was scheduled to apply a “polymer-based solution” to the Huxtable Road surface this month between Healesville-Koo Wee Rup Road and the start of the divided section of Huxtable Road, he said.

“This solution binds and compacts the road’s fine particles, resulting in a stronger and longer-lasting road surface, less dust and less water ingress.

“Over the past year, Huxtable Road has been graded at least once a month and sometimes twice a month.

“Council proactively inspects Huxtable Road every six weeks in line with its Road Management Plan.

“Other inspections may also take place if a motorist contacts council to report an issue with the road.”

Mr Howard said the council had not reduced funding to the maintenance of unsealed roads or changed its scheduling, and that there were no plans in place to seal Huxtable Road.

Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.


About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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