Deputy Premier and the Minister responsible for disaster recovery John Barilaro said with water levels starting to recede, the NSW Government is pivoting its focus from response to recovery.
“The 2019/20 bushfires and the clean-up and recovery efforts that followed taught us a great deal, and having worked on bushfire recovery for the past 15 months I am taking that experience and those lessons with me to steer recovery following these extreme floods,” Barilaro said.
“Emergency services and road crews have worked tirelessly to restore access to these communities as soon as possible – and now we want to focus on restoring those roads to full capacity.”
He said the Regional Road Flood Recovery Taskforce will assess damage, report ongoing closures to locals, assist the freight industry and other road users and support councils with applications for disaster recovery funding.
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the floods had left a trail of wreckage across the state’s road network.
“We know how important it is to restore these road networks as quickly as possible to ensure supplies are getting in and communities are able to start getting back on their feet,” Mr Toole said.
“However, due to the large number of slips and inaccessibility of some areas, it is likely that closures of some roads will be in place for several weeks.
One particular route with significant damage is Waterfall Way between Dorrigo and Belleingen.
Barilaro said more than 500mm of rain fell during the recent severe weather event, closing the road from Friday 19 March.
“We know how important the Waterfall Way is to communities and to the local economy and we’re pulling out all the stops to get it reopened as soon as possible,” Barilaro said.
“The absolute drenching received in the area resulted in five major landslips and 12 minor slips along this key stretch of road which crews are now working to fix.”
He said some of the slips are in sections where the embankment is up to 30 metres high, covering up to 100 metres along the road, with multiple trucks removing tonnes of material every day.
Toole said a technique called soil nailing was being used to safely stabilise the slips and get the road re-opened as soon as possible.
“Right now, we’re inserting 120 nine-metre-long metal ‘nails’ to help stabilise the Newell Falls area, located at the bottom of the range,” Toole said.
“It’s a challenging task with narrow road space to operate machinery and the potential for new land slips and falling trees.”
Its expected Waterfall Way will reopen with some single lane restrictions through affected areas mid to late this week.