People whose businesses rely heavily on roads like the Kings Highway should seriously consider other opportunities, according to an expert in infrastructure planning and disaster risk education.
As reported by the Sunday Canberra Times last week, the closure of the Kings Highway between Braidwood and the South Coast village of Nelligen has hit Braidwood businesses hard.
Businesses in the town of about 1600 people rely on the traffic moving between Canberra and the South Coast, but with a long stretch of the Kings Highway closed because of bushfires in the region, Braidwood's main street has been eerily quiet.
Sales of the Braidwood Bakery's famous pies were down 75 per cent, with the business' overall trade down about 70 per cent.
Other businesses, like Robert Aernout's Original Lamp Shop, had also experienced a decline in sales, and Mr Aernout said business owners in the town had begun speaking openly about standing down staff.
There appears to be little relief on the horizon, with NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance saying on Friday the Kings Highway was likely to remain closed for at least a month.
Dr Nader Naderpajouh, an expert in infrastructure planning and disaster risk education from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, said affected business owners should use this time to consider other opportunities that were not so reliant on the road.
He said trying to find an infrastructure solution to the issue would likely take years, meaning it was up to the community to find its own ways to combat the road closure in the interim.
"It's like a stock portfolio," Dr Naderpajouh said.
"It might perform well for 10 years, but if you're not diversified and you're dependent on one source, like [the Kings Highway], if the road shuts you're going to struggle."
Dr Naderpajouh said with the increasing threat of bushfires, long closures of major roads like the Kings Highway could be "the new normal".
"You have to prepare for it and see what other business opportunities are there," he said.
"This is a great time for the community to think about what else they can do to diversify their portfolio."
Dr Naderpajouh, who is also an expert in community resilience, said the key after disasters like bushfires was coming together.
He said "social capital" was valuable and if communities were able to identify solutions that would prevent a repeat of their suffering, they could leverage the situation in applying to governments for funding.
He pointed to the example of an action group that fought for better mobile phone coverage in bushfire-prone areas in Victoria's Yarra Valley.
Warning that poor phone coverage in these areas meant there was "a disaster waiting to happen", residents formed the action group and made a joint funding submission to the federal government with their local council and Member of Parliament.
Their efforts resulted in funding for two new mobile towers.
One thing that communities in the capital region could possibly leverage the bushfires for is telecommunications funding.
Dr Michael de Percy, a University of Canberra senior lecturer in political science who specialises in telecommunications and transport policy, said while travelling to and from Sydney during periods where roads were affected by bushfires, he had found it difficult to get up-to-date information on road closures.
He said many apps including NSW Live Traffic and Google Maps had outdated information and the most reliable had been Waze, which relies on user-submitted information.
He tried listening to ABC radio for bushfire updates, but the reception was unreliable at stages while he was on the road.
"This is the national emergency broadcaster, but I was getting more information from the Waze app than anything else," Dr de Percy said.
While capital region towns like Braidwood had struggled as a result of bushfire-related road closures, Dr de Percy said Gunning, where he lived, had actually benefitted from a partial closure of the Hume Highway south of Sydney in the days leading up to Christmas.
"It's quite interesting that you say that for Braidwood it's been a problem, because for Gunning it's been a boon," he said.
"The servo's several cars deep at every pump.
"We do get extra traffic at Christmas time, but because of the fact the Hume [Highway] was closed, which meant that people coming from Melbourne couldn't get through [to Sydney], the local caravan park here was completely packed.
"The town was actually booming. You couldn't even park in Gunning. It was unreal."