RAINBOW residents claim their safety concerns regarding truck usage of the Rainbow-Nhill Road have been ignored by Hindmarsh Shire Council.
The council decided to remove truck restrictions on the road in April 2018 after claims farmers had expressed concerns about financial losses.
However, resident Tony Clark said it was not a good decision due to the poor quality of the road.
"This road has been closed to trucks for many years due to the narrowness of it, the danger to vehicles, the amenity of affected residents and the environment," he said.
"There is also a narrow bridge with poor safety signs and a school bus uses it. Farmers had no issues with trucks not using the road."
READ MORE: Rainbow-Nhill Road truck restrictions lifted
He said the council had told the Rainbow Town Committee that using the Rainbow-Nhill Road saved trucks seven minutes. However, he said this was only going by an estimation from Google Maps.
"I was told by the council's project engineer that they had never actually measured it themselves," he said.
"Why is the council spending all this ratepayer money on repairing the road when the residents actually don't want trucks on?"
Mr Clark started a petition after the road was opened to trucks. He said the petition was signed by every resident on Lake Street, Rainbow, which is the road the Rainbow-Nhill Road turns into.
Read Mr Clark's letter to the editor below:
I wish to ask questions that involve money paid by ratepayers of Hindmarsh Shire Council in relation to the sudden decision to open the Nhill-Rainbow Road to trucks.
This road has been closed to trucks for years due to the narrowness of the road, the danger to vehicles, the amenity of affected residents and the environment. It has been claimed to save seven minutes, which they have never actually measured.
Other roads within our shire that require repair receive the reply, 'they do not have funds' but have suddenly come up with funds for this unwanted truck route.
Hindmarsh Shire I ask the following?
1. Why this road was opened for trucks prior to any risk management works taking place?
2. What 'safe' roads will these trucks use at the north and south end of the Nhill-Rainbow Road?
3. Why hasn't funds/grants been spent on existing roads (grading/surfacing) or improving roads/bridges that are actually needed?
4. What environment/cultural studies were done prior to any works on the road?
5. Why have resident wishes/complaints been ignored by the Shire and our 'local' councillors?
6. Why did the Shire spend effort on bringing the Jeparit-Lorqoun Road up to truck standard when effectively, east of the Nhill Rainbow Road is now rarely used by trucks?
Shire ratepayers, I would be questioning why your shire/councillors are using your money on this project that is not wanted, where such resources could be spent in your area.
Rainbow farmer Russell Eckermann said he had sent a letter to the council regarding the concerns he and other landowners had.
"As locals, we have approached the shire about it and they are not taking on board anything that we are saying," he said.
He said the road was not safe for heavy vehicle use.
"It's a narrow road with lots of corners. There was speed limit put in place in 2009 because the road had serious safety issues and because of the conservation area," he said.
"Suddenly last year, with very little to no consultation with ratepayers, the limit was taken off."
Mr Eckermann lives close to the gypsum pits north of Rainbow. He estimated that up 150 trucks used the road every day, mostly carrying gypsum.
"There is a huge volume of trucks now using the road. The road is just not up to spec to allow heavy vehicles on it. So we want to know why the council decided it is safe for the trucks all of a sudden. We're afraid as locals to drive on the road," he said.
Hindmarsh council chief executive Greg Wood said the council had decided to prioritise upgrade works of the road "as funding opportunities became available".
"This decision was made to promote economic growth within the shire, allowing our local farmers and businesses use of the road," Mr Wood said.
"To date, approximately $1.4 million has been spent on upgrading and widening the road of which $870,000 has been granted funded.
"Works to widen the Outlet Creek bridge will commence shortly and a further $2.25 million has been allocated for upgrading this road in the 2019-20 year."
Mr Wood said, prior to the upgrade works, the road was of "similar standard to many local roads throughout the shire and the rest of the state which already carry trucks".
"Council is complying with its statutory environmental obligations in improving the road," he said.
Speaking to the Mail-Times last year, Hindmarsh Shire mayor Ron Ismay said the road desperately needed widening to make it safe. He said parts of the road were single-lane, and there were also blind corners.
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