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‘By-pass no way to go’

Wednesday, 30th November, 2011

By Craig Brealey

City Council will tonight consider a confidential report into granting Perilya a licence to run a haulage road through the Willyama Common.

Council has declared the haulage road its “number one priority” and put its plans for an alternative bitumised by-pass on the backburner.

The by-pass, or ring road, is a more expensive option but it would be open to all heavy vehicles.

It remains a “long term goal” of Council’s but, according to one councillor, it would be better if it was abandoned.

Councillor Tom Kennedy said this was because it would take much longer to get the bitumised, highway standard ring road built than it would for Perilya to construct a gravel road for its own use.

“The $3 million Council is attempting to gain from grants to spend on an $8  million public by-pass road would be better spent fixing the roads on the city’s streets which are in urgent need of repair,” Clr Kennedy said.

“Council wants to kill two birds with one stone. It wants Perilya to have the haulage road and the city to have a public ring-road bypass.

“The problem is that by trying to get the money for it Council is delaying the project.

“We need the haulage road built so Perilya can start employing people.”

Perilya’s general manager in Broken Hill, Andrew Lord, agreed that it could construct a gravel road but he said that nothing that Council was doing was holding up progress.

Mr Lord said that there was still more to be done before a road of any kind could be built.

First of all, title had to be secured for the land on the route so that it could be leased, then designs submitted for the road, he said.

Permission had then to be obtained to run part of it through the North Mine’s lease and changes had to be made to Perilya’s operations plan for the mine, he said.

The present plan allowed for the mining of ore at the North but Perilya wanted to be allowed to crush some of the waste metal and use it for gravel on the road, whether it was a bitumised road or not, Mr Lord said.

“It’s not a big job but all the ‘i’s need to be dotted,” he said.

“If Council gets the money, that’s good, but it is not being delayed by any action of Council’s.”

But Clr Kennedy said that some of the work had already been done: Western Lands had approved the road, Council would free-up the part of it that ran through the airport, and it would give permission for it to run through the Willyama Common. 

 The RTA had also said it had no problems with it, he said.

If a road from the north to the south was not built before Potosi opened then the heavy ore-laden trucks might have to go through the streets, and this was something that no-one wanted, Clr Kennedy said.

“People would prefer that the trucks not go through the city’s streets and so does Perilya because they would have to do a lot of major upgrades to the streets.

“Even if Council gets the $3 million, that leaves another $5 million and who knows how long it will take to get that? And there is no guarantee that the road will be built in time.”

A ring road had to be built to highway standards, with a bitumised top and the right contours, Clr Kennedy said, whereas an all-weather haulage road would be a gravel road and much simpler to construct.

“We don’t need a by-pass anyway because we don’t want people by-passing the city,” he said.

Clr Kennedy said the city would be better off if Council spent whatever money it could get on the city’s roads. 

“I know that some people will say, ‘well, you’re never going to get a $3million government grant to fix the streets’ and that’s true, but even if Council got that money for the ring road, it would still have to contribute a significant amount of its own money to it.

“Perilya should be allowed to build a private haulage road which is paid for and maintained by Perilya so they can begin their Potosi operations and create jobs for the community.”

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