The deteriorating conditions of a major rural road linking the ACT with the Snowy Mountains could severely hamper emergency services, tourism and businesses if safety upgrades are not prioritised, long-time residents have warned.
The Boboyan Road is a key arterial road linking the ACT, from Tennet, to Adaminaby and goes towards Namadgi National Park.
Steven Angus, president of the Tharwa Rural Fire Brigade, said conditions had deteriorated to the point of it "being the worst I've seen" and that it could present problems in the longer term if not addressed.
"I'm 60 years old now and I've been travelling that road since I was four or five years old. It's the worst I've seen," Mr Angus said.
"As far as the fire goes, hopefully they'll improve it before future (bushfire) seasons.
"For other emergencies, if they had to get an ambulance or rescue vehicle down there, it'd certainly slow everything down. You just can't travel with any great speed on it."
In January 2020, the Orroral Valley bushfire swept through Namadgi, burning about 80 per cent of Namadgi National Park (82,700 hectares), 22 per cent of Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve (1444 hectares) and 3350 hectares of rural lands.
Mr Angus said the road conditions had also impacted general use.
"Over the past six months, I've stopped and helped three people who had been up there in two-wheel-drive cars and had flat tyres and things like that. We just need the safety to be maintained because that would cost less in the long term," he said.
An ACT Rural Fire Service spokesperson said the current conditions of the road did not impact the RFS's ability to respond and its preparations for the 2021-22 bushfire season.
"ACTRFS members are experienced and trained in driving heavy vehicles on varying road types under a variety of weather conditions," the spokesperson said.
"The 2019-20 bushfires also reduced fuel loads and the fire risk along Boboyan Road and other areas of the Namadgi National Park."
Under the federal government's Road to Recovery program, $4 million has been allocated to upgrading sections of the 40km road, one of 13 in the ACT, until the 2023-24 financial year.
Upgrade works include sealing at Rendezvous Creek and reconstruction at Mount Clear, scheduled for completion in August.
James Hudson, who uses the road three to four times per month, said he found it hard to believe the conditions during a recent trip.
"The conditions are deplorable. I thought my car would fall," Mr Hudson said.
"I came across a city car filled with a family that was doing not more than 10km/h trying to dodge the potholes and rocks.
"To say that Namadgi is open and people are going there, someone's going to get killed."
Mr Hudson said the adjoining Smiths Road, which he also drives on frequently, also needed urgent repairs.
Adaminaby Store owner Fiona Brayshaw, who has used the road for 40 years, said freight and tourism in the town had also been impacted.
"We used to joke here that the road on the NSW side was bad, but you can always rely on the ACT to have it graded. Well now the ACT is worse and that's saying something," she said.
Damian De Marco has been part of the Boboyan Road User Group formed 10 years ago lobbying for upgrades to a standard that is safe and wide enough for two cars.
"The government should advise it's not safe for two-wheel-drive cars. Not doing so would be irresponsible," he said.
"A high percentage of the road is now rough bedrock and unable to be graded any more. There's even an exposed and broken concrete pipe crossing the road in one spot.
"The volume of cars using that road has increased and it's become a bigger problem since the bushfire."
Mr De Marco, who has used the road for the past 35 years, said the government had "done a great job fixing 2km of dangerous section near the ACT border in the past few years".
Transport Minister Chris Steel was contacted for comment but his office referred queries to Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS).
A TCCS spokesperson said the construction tender for the project area around Mount Clear and Rendezvous Creek, totalling about 2km, had been awarded.
"We expect construction to commence in the coming weeks and to take around 3-4 months to complete (weather permitting)," the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said the image showing the damaged stormwater pipe and road surface was not within the current project rehabilitation area.
"Roads ACT have been made aware of the conditions and are scheduling repair works," they said.
For 2020-21, the ACT government was allocated $9.24 million as part of the Roads to Recovery Program with the territory's life-of-program allocation being $39.84m.
Other rural roads under this program included Paddy's River, Smiths and Sutton roads.
On April 27 last year, the NSW Public Works Advisory said the $20 million realignment and reconstruction of the NSW section of the road was under way.
It came after the Snowy Monaro Regional Council was successful in gaining funding as part of a NSW government election commitment within the Transport Cluster's Major Road Upgrades to seal the road to improve its safety and drivability.
The council has been contacted for an update.
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