RESIDENTS in the Ameys Track/Dollar area will be forced to seeking alternative routes to the South Gippsland Highway with the closure of the Foster-Mirboo Road due to a major landslip.
Constant heavy rain undermined the road about one kilometre in from the highway, causing a one-lane stretch of it several metres long to break off and slide down into a gully. The damage was reported in the early hours of last Wednesday morning.
South Gippsland Shire officers have erected safety fencing around the danger spot and have closed the road for what Shire Operations Manager Fred Huitema advises could be as much as six months, depending on the weather.
Alternative routes will need to be taken, such as Ameys Track for travel to the east, or Stony Creek Dollar Rd for travel to the west of Foster-Mirboo Rd.
Glenda Williams, who lives only metres from the landslip, said the road closure would be a major inconvenience for her and many of her neighbours. She said that she had reported cracks in the same stretch of road several months ago, and the shire had repaired them, but had evidently not done enough.
“Now I am concerned about having Ameys Track as an alternative route,” she said. “Especially now that it will have to cope with so much additional traffic, including milk tankers, school buses, log trucks and coaches to Rumbug Camp. Ameys Track will need some major work to make it safe.”
Mr Huitema said that the shire had fixed the cracks and had been monitoring the road ever since, but with so much rain damage right across the shire priorities had had to be set and the shire had been concentrating on roads which had sustained major damage such as landslips. He said that while the road had been showing some cracks it was difficult to see how seriously undermined it was until it gave way completely.
He said that the shire was in the process of assessing Ameys Track as to its suitability as a detour route.
The landslip was one of numerous incidents that shire crews were called to during last week’s wild weather.
It began on Monday night, with a total of sixteen calls to the after-hours number advising of trees on the road – eleven in the north of the shire and five in the south. By mid-morning on Tuesday there had been 30 calls about trees over the road and six water-over-the-road calls. Twelve separate crews were dispatched to follow up these calls. Local Laws teams were also called out twice to secure wandering stock.
On Tuesday night the shire’s on-call phone was quiet until 5.25am. When it rang it was to advise that trees had fallen on power lines – a situation for SPAusNet to handle. As the bad weather persisted through Wednesday, the calls continued – nine trees and 16 roads had been reported by mid-morning, and crews continued the clean-up from the day before.
There was rain throughout South Gippsland – and much of Victoria. It was Foster, however, which achieved the dubious honour – according to the ABC television news on Wednesday evening – of the most rain overnight on Tuesday/Wednesday, 42mm.