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Roadside blues end as highway opens

Date

Daniel Morrissey

Workers clear debris from the landslide on the Kings Highway.

Workers clear debris from the landslide on the Kings Highway. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Businesses hope the reopening of the Kings Highway at Clyde Mountain, closed for nearly a week after a landslide, will quickly bring back a steady flow of tourists to inland and coastal towns.

In time for the last weekend of the ACT school holidays, the main road was reopened at midday yesterday after work by the NSW Roads and Maritime Services and Eurobodalla Shire Council.

''This involved working extended hours, sometimes under lights,'' an RMS spokeswoman said.

''Work was carried out from Saturday morning until midday [yesterday].''

The 1400-tonne landslide near Pooh Bear Corner, west of Nelligen, last Friday cut off the main link between Batemans Bay and inland towns, such as Braidwood, and the nation's capital.

The closure interrupted travel plans for many Canberrans who flock to the south coast and dented income for Braidwood and other towns that rely on the passing trade.

Antique dealer Gilles Bernardoff, who owns Bernardoff on the main street of Braidwood, said yesterday he was comforted the Clyde Mountain section was open again.

''It is such a relief,'' Mr Bernardoff said. ''Hopefully trade will return to normal.''

Business was ''almost down 100 per cent on some days'' after the road was closed.

A volunteer at the tourist office said the town was ''very empty'' last weekend.

In Batemans Bay, Bayside Motel owner Guy Smith said it was good news ahead of the weekend. Now he hoped the weekend weather would be fine as this would help lift the number of visitors.

The NSW roads agency said line marking was the only work to be completed on the Clyde Mountain section. ''A further preliminary geotechnical assessment will be carried out in about two weeks to determine the scope of further assessment,'' the RMS spokeswoman said.

''The assessment will determine whether further work closures will be needed.''

Heavy rain was blamed for the landslide last week.

An official geotechnical assessment of the Kings Highways at Clyde Mountain six years ago found there was a ''low potential'' for the mountainside to collapse even under extreme weather conditions, given existing mesh and fences.

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