Lorne community calls for work to fix “dangerous” roads

April 8, 2021 BY

Benwerrin-Mount Sabine Road that connects with Lorne's Allenvale Road has been identified as needing immediate maintenance work. Photo: DARYL BABINGTON

THE Committee for Lorne has backed community members calling on the Surf Coast Shire Council to improve unsafe roads in the region.

Qdos Art Gallery owner Graeme Willkie and Allenvale Road resident Peter Simpson have spearheaded a push to have the road sealed, which gained support of the peak community body.

Allenvale Road receives a large volume of foot traffic as one of a few roads that walkers can take to Qdos Art Gallery, Allenvale camp area, Phantom Falls and Teddy’s Lookout.

In an open letter, Mr Wilkie and Mr Simpson said locals had witnessed near collisions with vehicles and pedestrians as well as four accidents in the last two years.

Complaints lodged by the community have included serious road surface degradation, watercourses and deep corrugations causing cars to slip.

Committee for Lorne chairman Ian Stewart said as a major attraction and leader in the region when it comes to the arts, Qdos required better access.

“It is a shame when you see the poor state of the road people have to traverse to visit such a first-class amenity,” he said.

With some roads receiving higher volumes of traffic from certain types of vehicles, the committee believes a tailored schedule for maintenance should be implemented.

Mr Stewart said Lorne has a proactive community that is always looking to partner with government agencies to improve facilities.

“People have been rallying behind the maintenance work unanimously,” he said.

Otways residents Daryl Babington and wife Maureen, who live on nearby Benwerrin-Mount Sabine Road, said they share similar concerns.

The two connecting roads are well travelled by tourists and play a critical role in providing bushfire access.

Mr Babington said the narrow road posed dangers such as potholes, water from lack of drainage and overgrown scrubs which made it extremely dangerous, especially to those who were unfamiliar with the area.

He experienced the dangers of the road first-hand when he was hit by an oncoming vehicle eight years ago.

Mr Babington first voiced his concerns to council on April 7, 2017, citing the same concern for the lack of draining following 150mm of rain overnight.

“Our biggest grizzle is the state of our road in all seasons,” he said.

The Benwerrin-Mount Sabine Road is graded up to three times a year but with heavy rainfall and a lack of drainage, water often runs over the road with Mr Babington calling it “dangerous to negotiate with oncoming traffic, not forgetting the suspension damage”.

“One only has to travel past the Surf Coast boundary, to see how a road such as this one is maintained properly by the Colac Otway Shire,” he said.

Acting general manager governance and infrastructure John Bertoldi said council proactively inspects sections of Allenvale Road and Benwerrin-Mount Sabine Road at least every six months.

“Any defects discovered above our normal intervention protocols would be repaired in accordance with the timeframes specified in our Road Management Plan,” he said.

“At the time of the last inspection, the roads met our standards for safety and at this stage there are no plans for an upgrade for either of these roads.”

Mr Bertoldi said council would consider a request to fully fund the road improvement at a time when external funding is available.