Overview of issue - UPDATED 2 SEPTMEBER, 2O22
The Blue Mountains, like other parts of NSW, was declared a natural disaster area after torrential rain and flooding in March 2022 followed by an even more intense storm in July 2022, with 418 mm of rain in the three days from Sunday 3 July, 2022. The City also experienced multiple landslips, including the destruction of Megalong Road. There are now 66 landslip sites across the City with 26 of these located on Megalong Rd.
Initial, urgent remediation occurred at Megalong Road to open the road again to residents and the community. The permanent repair of the road has been delayed since then, due to ongoing external challenges.
Megalong Road, and further roadworks in Megalong Valley, continue to be a priority for Blue Mountains City Council and we thank the community for their continued patience.
It has been a difficult three years for the City and residents, following bushfires (2019/2020), three flooding events (2020, 2021 and 2022) and the global COVID-19 pandemic. Natural disasters and the pandemic have significantly impacted our organisation and the delivery of Services. But we are addressing priorities across the City, as best we can.
What work has been done to date?
- A sinkhole appeared on 27 October 2021 at the Megalong Road landslip site. This was partially repaired to enable the opening of one lane, with traffic controls and a load limit.
- During the storm events from February 2022 to April 2022, there were emergency responses to ensure access was maintained to residents at:
- Nellies Glen Road
- Megalong Rd (to remove traffic lights at the site of a complete failure due to a spring under the road) and
- Aspinall Road (where a sinkhole appeared at the location of a drainage culvert).
- After the initial clean up from the July 2022 storm, there has been ingoing work on both the landslides and Megalong Rd.
What work is still to be done and by when?
- A contractor has been appointed for the permanent repair of the landslide site at Megalong Road (to remove the load limit and all traffic lights).
- The scope has been extended to include the two additional landslides that occurred as a result of the February / March 2022 storms. Environmental and development approvals have delayed the start of the remediation of the three sites, but work is progressing as quickly as possible.
- Work has also been delayed due to the supply of concrete pipes, resulting from COVID-19 disruptions to the supply chain.
- Additional geotechnical investigations and temporary repairs are continuing following the July 2022 storm.
Other road repair work in the Megalong Valley
- Megalong Valley Road – Coachwood Glen to Peach Tree Road
- This road section was marked, to repair damaged sections before Dec 2021.
- Work was due to start in Feb 2022, but damaged areas had already expanded as a result of heavy rain during Feb – April 2022. This was remarked ready for repair by a contractor.
- A contractor provided a quotation on the remarked sections. As soon as this is pre-approved by TfNSW work on patching and renewal of failed sections will commence. This is currently in progress.
- Some temporary repairs have been applied. However, these are generally unsuccessful due to the extent of failure and cold wet conditions. Bitumen and asphalt surfacing requires dry condition with temperature above 9 degrees Celsius. Limited emergency temporary repairs will continue.
- Please note: Megalong Road will be temporarily CLOSED as soon as a contractor has been engaged to repair a failed section of road surface. 7 days notice will be provided as soon as a start date is known.
- Megalong Valley Road – Peach Tree Road to Megalong Creek
- A contractor was appointed and work commenced on 7 June 2022 to replace failed sections and clear table drains.
- A major failure that required partial closure and traffic lights was repaired.
- Track repairs to Nellies Glen Road was completed.
- The contractor will continue to apply temporary repairs to the sections that have completely failed.
- After the subsurface and drainage has been applied, permanent pavement rehabilitation and resurfacing will be provided. This work is now ongoing.
What funding is required to carry out repairs?
- It is estimated that about $100 million is currently needed for landslide repairs in the Megalong Valley.
- The repair of roads in the Megalong Valley, due to natural disasters, is costed at almost $5 million.
- Council cannot cover the entire cost of all these repairs and so continues to advocate to both State and Federal governments for disaster recovery funding.
- Council must receive pre-approval for all expenditure which is subject to inspection by the funding body, TfNSW, and requires detailed design and project estimates.
- Funding is not provided in advance and recovery payments are made after Council has completed the work and require Council to provide full documentation of all transactions before funds are paid.
- This slows down the process because no work can proceed until each item of work has been measured, quotes received and pre-approved.
- Council does not receive any funding until after Contractors have been paid.