Two years to mend broken roads
MORE than two years of work will be needed to fix the flood damage to the Bundaberg region's roads, says the Bundaberg Regional Council.
Looking back on the year that has passed since the floods of last summer hit the region, the council's roads and drainage infrastructure spokesman Wayne Honor said the road network had not recovered yet.
Cr Honor said the final cost of the damage had been assessed at $67 million.
"It has all been assessed by an independent company using special equipment," he said.
"Every piece of damage has now been recorded."
Cr Honor said the damaged roads were being prioritised for repairs.
"They'll be taking into account factors such as traffic use and what kind of traffic travels on the road," he said.
More than 3600 individual claims are being prepared for submission to the Queensland Reconstruction Authority for funding.
The claims would be systematically applied for in blocks of $2.5 million contracts for road stabilisation.
"There will be a large number of different types of contracts for things like culvert repairs and gravel road repairs," Cr Honor said.
"These will all be let out to private contractors because that's a condition of the reconstruction funding."
But getting the people to do the necessary work is another problem facing the region.
Cr Honor said contractors were in demand because of the resources boom, so they may have to be brought in from outside.
He said the council had already spent more than $8 million of ratepayers' money upfront to get some roads back into a trafficable state.
"There is so much work out there we don't have the funds to do it all," Cr Honor said.
"We are very much reliant on State Government and Federal Government funding."
The council also has a large commitment to Main Roads contracts they had taken on, putting an extra load on their resources.
"Main Roads are paying the council to do that work, so it helps relieve the pressure on ratepayers to fund that extra work," Cr Honor said.
"We are very conscious of ratepayers' ability to fund the work."
Cr Honor said the message to ratepayers was that while it might take time for all roads to be repaired, it would happen.
"A major issue we have is that the roads are still not sealed from the weather," he said.
"We have a high water table in some areas, so if we get more rain, we will see roads break up again."
Cr Honor said the council was battling to keep roads navigatable and keeping the risk to motorists as low as possible.
"We've got streets in the Gin Gin area that are breaking up something terrible, and with some major connective roads it's just a continual battle to keep them repaired," he said.
Some roads in the region were so severely damaged that bypasses had to be built to take traffic around the affected areas, but that has brought its own problems.
Cr Honor said the bypasses often became damaged in turn because they were not built to take heavy vehicles carting material for road repairs.
And rain just before the Christmas season meant some projects had to be delayed into the New Year.
Cr Honor said he was not happy about predictions the region would have a wetter than normal 2012 summer.
"I'm keeping my fingers crossed lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place, and we don't have storm events like we did last summer," he said.
"But as the season progresses, we can expect anything."
Cr Honor said water storages inland were full, and any heavy falls would send water down streams and rivers into the Bundaberg region.
He said it was essential motorists took care on the roads.
"Any rain we get now will change road conditions," he said.
"People need to drive to the conditions, observe the road signage and report any safety issues on the roads."
Transport and Main Roads will be weighing in too, with works totalling $260 million to continue across 330km of flood-affected roads in the Wide Bay-Burnett region this year, under Operation Queenslander, the largest reconstruction effort in the state's history.
A spokeswoman said this continued the department's flood reconstruction program, which saw $60.3 million spent on the region's roads last year.
The works will be delivered by RoadTek, local councils and private contractors, generating more than 1300 jobs.
Multiple sites on the Bruce Hwy will be reconstructed as part of a $32 million package that will begin early this year, and the tender for another $30 million worth of works in the Bundaberg area is now being assessed.
The Bundaberg package will include works on Bundaberg-Miriam Vale Rd, Goodwood Rd, the Isis Hwy between Bundaberg and Childers, Monto-Mt Perry Rd and Elliott Heads Rd.
These and other roads forming part of this package are expected to be reconstructed before the end of 2013, weather permitting.
The works will mainly include pavement stabilisation and overlay to ensure the roads are better able to cope with similar weather events in future.