Birt Road residents met with South Burnett mayor Brett Otto and Cr Kathy Duff in March to raise concerns about dust and erosion, and call for the busy road to be sealed

May 10, 2022

Heavy summer rains have left the South Burnett’s road network with a $4 million repair bill.

The region also has 200 roads in urgent need of bitumen resealing, gravel resheeting or drainage repairs; and in the past month the cost of bitumen has increased by about 30 per cent.

These alarming facts about the state of the region’s road network were revealed at the SBRC’s Infrastructure Standing Committee meeting last week.

Councillors were debating how to spend the remaining $2.2 million of their $3.3 million Local Roads and Community Infrastructure (LRCI) grant.

Since the LRCI program was announced in 2020, the SBRC has received three rounds of funding totalling almost $6.9 million, with the latest $3.3 million grant due to be spent by mid-2023.

Last November, Councillors voted to allocate $300,000 from the latest grant towards Blackbutt’s CBD upgrade.

And last December, they voted to allocate a further $750,000 to build a new George Street car park in Kingaroy’s CBD in order to recover 91 parking spaces lost to the KTP project.

But the fate of the remaining $2.2 million had yet to be determined.

Earlier in the meeting – after learning about the recent rise in bitumen costs – Councillors voted to tip an additional $75,000 into the George Street project to cover this.

Debate then turned to what to do with the remaining funds.

Several Councillors noted that allocating funds to seal a busy 1.4km stretch of Birt Road was first proposed by former Cr Roz Frohloff and Cr Danita Potter in 2016.

The pair had brought the matter back to Council for discussions in January this year.

In March, Mayor Brett Otto and Cr Kathy Duff attended an on-site meeting with Birt Road residents to see the dust and erosion problems the road was causing at first hand.

And in April, Birt Road resident Moya Hayden addressed a Council meeting to urge action about fixing the road.

However, a final decision on the matter was pushed out to last week’s meeting to allow Council officers sufficient time to prepare a targeted, region-wide works program for high priority roads.

Cr Kathy Duff said while she sympathised with Birt Road residents and agreed the dust and drainage problems they faced were significant, she disagreed with sealing part of the road because of the estimated $950,000 cost.

She argued it would be better to re-gravel the road – a much cheaper option – and put the remaining LRCI money towards dealing with the other 199 roads across the region in need of attention.

Mayor Brett Otto agreed, saying that while his heart was with the Birt Road residents, his head was aware Council was short of funds and needed to spend what it had prudently.

He said while it would be nice to receive a fourth round of LRCI funding in future, this was not guaranteed and proposed cuts to other grants programs were likely to cut deeply into Council’s finances if those reductions were not overturned.

However, other Councillors disagreed.

Cr Scott Henschen asked Councillors to consider what sealing Birt Road might have cost when it was first brought to Council’s attention in 2016.

He believed it would have been a lot less, and thought it would cost even more in future if Council postponed it any further.

Cr Danita Potter said after pushing for the project for six years, she wanted to see it done so Council could turn to other projects that also needed attention.

Crs Schumacher and Jones also spoke, saying while they agreed giving Birt Road a go-ahead would mean a large number of other road projects would have to be deferred, they believed the worst of them could be tackled with the remaining funds and other funding sources might turn up in Budget discussions.

In the end, the motion to proceed with sealing a 1.4km stretch of Birt Road was carried 4 to 2, with Crs Duff and Otto opposed.

The matter will now be listed for final approval at the SBRC’s monthly General Meeting on May 25.

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2 Responses to "Birt Road Gets Initial Go-Ahead"

  1. Isn’t it funny the two South Burnett council-elected representatives that attended this meeting and met face-to-face with the residents are the two voting against it. I 100% agree with the other councillors, the cost would have been considerably less cost than now. Remember never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

  2. A 1.4km section of a “busy” road that is 10km out of Kingaroy is a “priority”. Irrespective of cost at $950,000 or $1,250,000 what makes this a priority road? When other council roads within the network would have higher usage of traffic and require upgrading. Has due diligence been applied in this situation? Why 1.4km?

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