LAST week’s heavy rain has had a devastating effect on the district’s roads, none more so than the Foster-Fish Creek Road.
Members of a Fish Creek family were lucky to escape serious injury when they hit a particularly monstrous hole in the road as they were driving home from Foster last Wednesday evening.
Because of the dangers posed by the hole, estimated to stretch up to two metres across and more than two metres deep, VicRoads has now closed the Foster-Fish Creek Road [see photos], but at 7pm last Wednesday as he was driving past Shields Road, about three kilometres from Fish Creek, Pete Boyd had no idea of the danger in front of him.
Pete, who had his two young daughters, Jaimee and Laicee, in the car, just had time to observe the driver in front of him swerve, hit something with the edge of one wheel and then bounce back up. Her vehicle obscured the hole from him and the front left wheel of his vehicle dropped into it. Fortunately, at the rate he was travelling his vehicle had the impetus to land back on the road rather than plunge into the cavernous hole. However, the wheel was ripped off and the engine was displaced. Pete and his daughters emerged shaken but miraculously unhurt from their vehicle, which had to be towed away. Emergency services were notified, the driver ahead turned back to assist, and the road was promptly closed.
Pete said that what he finds particularly disturbing is that he was given no warning. He has since discovered that several drivers had passed along that stretch of road not long before him, observed a hole opening up – as a continuous flow of water undermined the road surface – and been sufficiently concerned to stop. However, not one of those drivers alerted the authorities to erect a warning sign or stayed to warn approaching drivers.
“I would have thought people would feel some moral obligation to warn other drivers. I’m very disappointed that nobody thought to forewarn us,” he said.
A diversion is now in place along the Foster-Promontory Road (C446) and Meeniyan-Promontory Road (C444). Drivers can also travel between Fish Creek and Foster via Falls Road and the South Gippsland Highway.
A VicRoads spokesperson estimated the road could remain closed for up to four weeks to allow the water to subside and for significant repairs to be carried out.
The gaping hole in the Fish Creek-Foster road was the most severe in numerous cases of damage to regional roads as the rain bucketed down. Foster recorded one of the highest rainfall totals in the state – more than 120mm – in the 48-hour period from Tuesday night to Thursday night.
Across South Gippsland sections of road surface broke apart and large potholes formed, even larger than the craters South Gippsland drivers have become all too used to of late.
VicRoads has warned that the damage may not always be obvious, as it may – as was the case initially with the Foster-Fish Creek Road – lie below the road surface. VicRoads crews have been assessing the roads and programming repairs.
Where possible, temporary improvements like pothole filling are being carried out to
improve the road surface. At other locations, warning signs have been put on roadsides to alert drivers to the conditions until more permanent works can be undertaken in coming months.
If you see these warning signs you should slow down and keep an eye out.
Some areas may not have warning signs in place and you can call VicRoads on 13 11 70, or go online to the VicRoads website, to report the hazard.
Drivers are also urged not to attempt to drive through floodwaters.