Cassowary Coast Regional Council

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July 9, 2019 - Persistent rain sets back road grading program

Persistent rain through the first half of the year has taken its toll in the Cassowary Coast Region and caused a backlog of grading works.

A Cassowary Coast Regional Council spokesman said he understood residents’ concerns about unsealed roads and that scheduled grading work would resume once weather conditions were suitable.

“The condition of unsealed roads can change quickly with the biggest contributing factors being rain, traffic type, traffic volume and traffic speed,” the spokesman said.  

“Recently graded roads can become slippery and boggy if impacted by rain during the grading works or up to three weeks after grading.  During rain periods, a road may be better left with potholes and corrugations than be graded.  Drying out the road with sunshine and time is often the most effective treatment.

“Unsealed roads will always generate some level of dust, however, Council is always reviewing and improving the quality of gravels used to enhance performance.”

He said drivers should slow down, minimise heavy vehicle movements when raining, understand the nature of unsealed roads and drive to the conditions.

About 40 per cent of Cassowary Coast Regional Council’s vast 1200km road network is made up of unsealed roads. 

Council has up to six graders working at any one time to reshape and re-compact unsealed roads. It expects to grade up to 400km per year, at a cost of about $1.6 million.  
Council also commits about $3 million towards gravel re-sheeting projects, achieving about 50km of re-sheeting per year.  Gravel re-sheeting involves adding 100mm to 150mm of new gravel to the road.

“These projects are identified through data collected from maintenance records, routine inspections and customer requests. Unfortunately, our unsealed road network has suffered over the past six months of persistent rain, producing a 90km backlog of grading works,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman said Council was continuously looking for ways to improve its services over the vast road network, however, sealing unsealed roads was not considered viable when evaluating the whole of life ownership costs of a road.