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Risk of Clyde slide 'low' in 2006 assessment

Date

Daniel Morrissey

Excavation works continued yesterday at the landslip on the Kings Highway.

Excavation works continued yesterday at the landslip on the Kings Highway. Photo: NSW Roads and Maritime Services

An official geotechnical assessment six years ago of the Kings Highway at Clyde Mountain – now closed for five days because of a 1400-tonne landslide – found there was a ‘‘low potential’’ for the mountainside to collapse even under extreme weather conditions, given existing protective fences and mesh.

The closure on Friday of the main road for people in Canberra, Queanbeyan, Braidwood and other surrounding inland towns to get to the south coast has caused travel chaos for families hoping to spend the school holidays at the beachside before the harsh winter.

Businesses, such as motels, restaurants and cafes, on the south coast and at inland towns such as Braidwood, which depend on passing trade, have lost income as holidaymakers cancelled trips.

Council workers have been trying to clear debris blocking the highway since Friday.

Council workers have been trying to clear debris blocking the highway since Friday. Photo: Eurobodalla Shire Council

In response to questions put by The Canberra Times to the NSW Roads and Maritime Services yesterday, the agency revealed it had identified the potential for a  rock fall in an assessment conducted in 2006.

‘‘The risk assessment considered both how the mountainside might fail and the likelihood of a rock fall,’’ an RMS spokeswoman said. ‘‘It was assessed as low potential for failure, given the already extensive fences and mesh draping on the site.

‘‘All assessments carried out by the RMS take into account the variety of extreme weather conditions.’’

The NSW government agency defended its decision to rank the risk to Kings Highway as low, arguing the area near Pooh Bear corner, west of Nelligen, already had a large rock-catch fence and mesh draping that had ‘‘proved suitable for the majority and more prevalent rock falls’’ in the area.

‘‘These large events are rare and difficult to predict. They are even more difficult to design cost effective treatments for.’

Still, the agency will be ‘‘carrying out a much more comprehensive assessment’’ once the road has been re-opened.

This would review the ‘‘assessed risk of the site and the suitability’’ of existing protections.

In Batemans Bay, the owner of the Bayside Motel, Guy Smith, said yesterday he had several cancellations on the weekend and a restaurant his daughter’s partner operated further down the coast, in Bodalla, had a ‘‘very quiet weekend, where every other weekend has been busy, busy, busy’’.

‘‘It is a combination of the road closure, which has had a substantial impact, but also the way the weather has been, which in effect caused the problem in the first place,’’ Mr Smith said.

The RMS spokeswoman said the Kings Highway was expected to be re-opened by the end of the week subject to the availability of ‘‘required building materials’’.

‘‘The cost of repairs is still being established,’’ she said.

Motorists are being diverted at Braidwood and Batemans Bay.

10 comments so far

  • Are you ready to play Australia's favourite game - The Blame Game.

    Stuff happens, end of story.

    Commenter
    Stir the pot
    Date and time
    April 24, 2012, 7:30AM
    • You are correct - but wait and watch, all the experts will still come out and the whingers will flourish

      Commenter
      Irene
      Date and time
      April 24, 2012, 8:40AM
  • Is Pooh okay?

    Commenter
    Piglet
    Location
    Goulburn
    Date and time
    April 24, 2012, 8:10AM
    • What chaos? I was driving down to the Bay (with kids) on Friday evening. Got to Braidwood and heard about the slide. It's an extra 120 minutes drive through Nerriga. Is there anything Canberran's don't grossly overreact to?

      Commenter
      Chaos?
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      April 24, 2012, 8:41AM
      • A 120 minute detour is a fairly significant addition to the trip, particularly if you want to go down just for the day. We couldn't justify the extra four hours driving so we postphoned our day trip.

        Commenter
        Richo
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        April 24, 2012, 12:11PM
      • Chaos, I drive to the bay because it's close, If it's now the same travel distance or less to go to Jarvis Bay, Wollongong, Nowra, Narooma, Bermagui or even Newcastle, guess where I'm not going. Why would you go to the Bay if it's a four hour drive or more?

        Commenter
        Not one to whinge, but
        Date and time
        April 24, 2012, 3:02PM
    • "Businesses, such as motels, restaurants and cafes, on the south coast and at inland towns such as Braidwood, which depend on passing trade, have lost income as holidaymakers cancelled trips."
      Funny isn't it, when down the coast you can here them say "bloody Canberrans"

      Commenter
      Kerno
      Date and time
      April 24, 2012, 1:04PM
      • The irony is that when I went down this road on Friday, about 90 minutes, before the major landslide the rock fall barricade had already bulged outward and was at breaking point. Our friends who live in Moruya, and travel to Canberra every week or so, pointed out that the rock had already quite some time ago as they also noted the fence bulging . The question is why didn’t the Roads and maritime Services act on this prior to what can only be described a near disaster as someone could have been killed.

        Commenter
        allanc
        Date and time
        April 24, 2012, 1:08PM
        • Nothing is 100% predictable. Six years ago we were in drought and soils were compacted and hard as rock. Now we've had 2 years of rain, often torrential, and soils are saturated and slippery.
          Given the rainy conditions, I assume that the dirt road via Araluen is strictly 4-wheel drive at the moment
          It's an inconvenience for those living on the coast, but it's how things are in Australia. We don't have the resources to build giant causeways over mountain passes.
          Still, modern transportation makes our lives much more convenient than for those who came beofre us, like 100 years ago. Coast to Canberra travel would have taken days then, if undertaken at all.

          Commenter
          MEP
          Location
          Kambah
          Date and time
          April 24, 2012, 2:56PM
          • There are plenty of other great places on the coast, you do not have to go to batemans bay! I took a drive through Tarago, Nerriga then off to the coast around Nowra. 2.5 hour drive, and much nicer than the usual bay

            Commenter
            Jude
            Date and time
            April 24, 2012, 10:34PM

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