ROAD repair – or the lack of it – has become a hot topic all over the district in recent months. Anger has been vented in letters to the paper and politicians and to the authorities concerned – VicRoads or South Gippsland Shire Council, depending on the road.
April’s Indian summer weather allowed road contractors to at last get out and make good progress on many of the worst sections of road, including the South Gippsland Highway and the Foster-Fish Creek Road. Many drivers are feeling a good deal happier about the situation.
Up in the hills at Dollar, however, the community is still feeling aggrieved. They decided there was strength in numbers and banded together last month to form the Dollar Residents Improvements Association. They have already had three meetings and plan to continue to meet fortnightly until they are sure the shire is taking heed of their concerns.
Their main beef is the road between Dollar and Dumbalk. It’s the route frequented by locals wanting to get to the general store at Dumbalk (the nearest shop) or Murray Goulburn for farming supplies, or to Meeniyan or Leongatha.
“We’re particularly concerned about the six-kilometre dirt section of the road,” said group secretary Margaret Roach.
“For a start we would like to see it widened. We’ve measured it and there are sections where it is only four metres wide – that’s barely sufficient for two cars to pass and nowhere enough for two trucks.”
Ms Roach said there was a local dairy farmer who had to schedule the collection of his milk for night time so that the tanker was less likely to encounter anyone else on the road.
She said that with an at times precipitous drop on one side of the road and a steep and solid bank on the other, there was nowhere for drivers to go if they happened to meet oncoming traffic. There have, she said, been collisions, and she is fearful someone will be seriously hurt one day.
Twenty-five people voted with their feet for action and turned up for the first meeting of the Dollar residents and almost as many for the second.
The residents were pleased to see Cr David Lewis, a South Gippsland Shire Councillor for the Tarwin Valley Ward, at the initial meeting.
Shortly afterwards a grader came up to the area. However, it did not get as far as the Dumbalk Road before it slipped off the edge of the Foster-Mirboo Road.
“That’s how bad the road is up our way!” said Margaret Roach.
The grader was retrieved and worked for a couple more days. However, the Dollar residents are still waiting for their road to be widened.
“Cr Lewis has been very receptive and helpful, but there’s a limit to what he can do. That’s why we formed our committee,” said Ms Roach. “We believe Council has set aside some money for repairs of the road but only on the bitumen. We want to see money spent on the gravel section. There are potholes, which only seem to get temporary fixes, and the drainage needs to be improved. Perhaps some guard rails could be installed, too. We hope our committee will be able to have an advisory role.”
In the 2012-13 draft budget Council has set aside $285,000 for the Dollar Road at Dumbalk. Like everyone else, Dollar residents have until May 23 to comment on the budget. Copies are available on Council’s website or at the main office in Leongatha.