Open crossing brings detour relief

Gareth ThomasAlbany Advertiser

The road network across the Great Southern is another step closer to normal operation after a temporary crossing of the Philips River was opened for public use last Friday afternoon.

The Philips River Bridge near Ravensthorpe was ripped from its foundations last month when the region experienced severe flooding and unseasonal heavy rainfall that caused substantial damage to several parts of the Wheatbelt and Great Southern road networks.

Main Roads Great Southern regional manager Andrew Duffield said the opening of the temporary crossing meant the 80km detour was now lifted.

Mr Duffield said the entire network had been operational for some time but there were still some detours in place.

“Further to the east we are still working on repairing sections of the South Coast Highway in the Bedford Harbour Road area; those areas are subject to inundation up to a metre in depth and we’ve got a side track around those locations in place,” he said.

“We are working away on getting a causeway in place there to get the road formation above the water level but we still have another couple of weeks of work before we can lift that detour.”

There were also several sections of rail damaged in the floods.

CBH logistics manager Ben Raisbeck said all but one site had since been repaired.

“The line from Lake Grace to Newdegate remains closed and there are areas still affected by flooding along this line,” he said.

“Given this line only has one site on it there is little impact on the overall Albany program.”

Mr Raisbeck said damage at the flood-affected Borden CBH site was still being assessed but at this stage he did not expect more than 4 per cent of the stored grain to be damaged.

Mr Duffield said there was still widespread low-level damage across the road network in the region and Main Roads were in the process of awarding contracts to have those areas repaired.

He said the February floods were a one-in-one-hundred-year event and it was not reasonable to re-engineer the network based on such an event. “The recurrence interval is certainly in excess of one in one hundred years so it’s not feasible to design things like bridges for those types of events,” he said. “That would be gold-plating the network and that wouldn’t make sense.”

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