Push to improve key timber roads

The Softwoods Working Group has named Bombowlee Creek Road as a vital timber transport route requiring an upgrade.

Local government areas across the region will combine with the forestry industry and private stakeholders in a push for much-needed road funding that is the first joint effort of its kind.

Snowy Valleys Council, Greater Hume Council, and Cootamundra-Gundagai Councils are working together with industry members of the Softwood Working Group in order to present the case for funding road works that are vital to the timber sector as well as local motorists.

In the Tumut area the roads the group aim to see funded are Bombowlee Creek Road, including the bridge, as well as adjoining networks around Billapaloola Road towards Gundagai.

Chairman of the Softwoods Working Group Peter Crowe stressed the importance of having viable roads for the safety of users.

“One place we would dearly love to see fixed is the Bombowlee Creek Road Bridge where there’s already been a couple of fatalities,” Mr Crowe said.

“Bombowlee Creek Road, in a big year, can carry 1 million tonnes of wood, in all sorts of conditions – in extremely wet weather, extremely dry and hot weather, and in the higher altitudes frosty and snow conditions.

“Some of these roads have their working life just about over and we need to do some major reconstruction.”

Snowy Valleys Council allocated $90 000 to initial works in the Bombowlee Creek Road in 2016 with the intention of increasing its viability for further funding. They hope that by working with other councils their case for repairing the forestry road networks will be clear-cut.

Snowy Valleys Executive Director of Engineering Services Matthew Christensen said that the initial costings for the project came to $5 million, and that while he doesn’t have a crystal ball, he believes the chances of securing funding are “very good.”

“State and Federal governments would be the prime candidates,” he explained.

“[The works] would maximise the timber productivity from the plantations to the mills, and each council had a look at which ones they thought were of the most benefit for timber freight.”

Mr Crowe also believes the idea of working together puts all involved in good standing to make their case.

“We’ve got to do a hell of a lot of work which means that we might not be ready for this round, but if we get the preliminary work together we might be in a good position for the next round,” he said.

“If you look at Gocup Road, it took us a long time to get that funded but eventually we succeeded.”

“It’s all about moving wood as quickly and efficiently as possible.”