Deputy Mayor Gavin Jones, Cr Kathy Duff, Cr Kirstie Schumacher, Cr Jane Eekens, Mayor Brett Otto, Cr Danita Potter, SBRC Acting Infrastructure General Manager Ged Brennan and Cr Scott Henschen prepare to board a bus on their inspection tour of the region’s worst roads (Photo: Kathy Duff)

June 9, 2022

Birt Road residents in Kingaroy are unlikely to get part of their street sealed in the coming year, despite arranging several on-site meetings with South Burnett councillors and lodging a petition with the SBRC.

The backflip comes after Councillors initially supported the residents’ request by a margin of four votes to two.

Instead, Councillors now appear likely to use the remaining $2.2 million of Council’s $3.3 million Local Roads and Community Infrastructure (LRCI) grant to patch other roads.

The Birt Road issue has been raised at four Council meetings over the past two months.

In April, Councillors were told drainage problems on Birt Road were so severe one family now has to sandbag their front door whenever it rains to prevent run-off from the road flooding their home.

They also heard dust from the road was polluting residential water tanks and causing chronic health problems that have put at least one resident in hospital several times since she moved to the area from the Sunshine Coast.

Residents said Birt Road now hosted a wedding centre, a B&B, a tourism business, an accountant, a mechanic, a builder, and a duboisia plantation, along with many new homes.

This had increased the road’s traffic substantially and made an already bad situation much worse.

Councillors were initially sympathetic to the residents’ request and voted to allocate $950,000 of their remaining LRCI funding to sealing a 1.4km stretch of Birt Road by a margin of 5 to 2.

At May’s Infrastructure Standing Committee meeting a few weeks later, they voted by a margin of 4 to 2 to expand this to $1.25 million to cover an expected rise in bitumen costs.

But at the Council’s May General Meeting, matters took a sudden change of direction.

At this meeting, Councillors were expected to confirm their earlier standing committee decision to increase funding for the Birt Road project.

Instead, Cr Kathy Duff – who opposed the project from the outset because she wanted the money spent on other roads – proposed an alternative motion.

She moved that Councillors embark on an inspection tour to view the region’s problem roads firsthand before coming to a final decision

Cr Duff’s motion was seconded by Cr Jane Erkens and carried 5-2, with Crs Schumacher and Henschen opposed.

Councillors took their inspection tour on Tuesday and Wednesday this week using a mini-bus.

The result is that a final decision on where the $2.2 million will be spent is now unlikely to be made until the Council’s next General Meeting on June 24.

This will be just six days before the Council’s deadline to submit its list of LRCI projects to the Federal Government for final approval, or risk losing the remaining funding.

* * *

At the South Burnett Regional Council’s Infrastructure standing committee meeting on May 4, Council officers recommended 13 roads for resealing using LRCI funding.

Officers selected these roads from a list of 143 sealed roads as being the highest priority, given their importance in the region’s road network and amount of traffic they receive.

The proposed roads or road sections were:

  • Drayton Street, Nanango – $29,400
  • Edward Street, Wondai – $68,530
  • First Avenue, Kingaroy – $308,573
  • Gore Street, Murgon – $71,820
  • Haly Street, Kingaroy (three sections) – $123,200
  • Hart Street, Blackbutt – $73,500
  • River Road, Kingaroy (four sections) – $194,610
  • Runnymede Road, Runnymede – $217,980
  • Silverleaf Road, Byee – $169,380
  • Nanango-Brooklands Road, Brooklands – $123,060
  • Old Esk Road, Taromeo (two sections) – $140,480
  • Appin Street West, Nanango – $95,200
  • Tingoora-Chelmsford Road (two sections) – $623,197

The total amount officers proposed to spend on these roads was $2,238,930.

However, if $1,250,000 were spent on sealing Birt Road, then a number of these projects would need to be funded using other sources.

The same would apply if Councillors proposed different roads not on this list after their recent inspection tour.

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4 Responses to "Council Delays Birt Road Decision"

  1. I was drawn to this story simply because it’s another headline of ‘Council delays decision’ ; this seems to be a common theme in this region.

    I hope no-one voted these people in for decisive action, they seem to back flip & dither about with monotonous regularity.

    This time, it doesn’t seem to matter that people are facing hardship because of ongoing issues with roads. It doesn’t seem to matter that potholes & bad roads are affecting peoples’ lives, costing us all money in wear & tear on cars/tyres etc. Will it eventually matter when things get so bad that a life is lost?

    The streets around the town are disgraceful, with no sign of any repair work being done at all. The story above has been ongoing for a much longer time, can we assume from this that we should get used to crumbling road surfaces in the town area while we go through months of dithering by the elected council?

    Please stop wasting time & money holding meetings where nothing gets decided, where procrastinating seems the aim of the game, because that is not what you were elected for.

    I’m pretty sure you all said you would take action on matters for residents, do you need us to say ‘Ready, Set, Go’?

  2. “Do your Job” has a good point here. Over the last 2 years we have watched the systematic dismantling of SBRC functionality by the competing factions within.

    What is your objective? To create angst and division across the community?

    Using your LG role to lobby for significant funding (from state, federal or anywhere for that matter) appears to be the obvious objective, and one would think concentrating on developing strong relationships with decision makers should be your priority.

    There are more political stunts and divisive scheming than ever before, broadcasting the inability to reach agreement on social media, whilst stating the individuals respect the democratic process.

    This is embarrassing to say the least and good on you for turning our local government reputation into a dysfunctional mess.

    The road situation has been a long-standing issue for our region, and our roads are supposed to provide SAFE passageway for commerce operations and domestic travel. We are predominantly an agricultural community, whose roads are the lifeblood of our agricultural industry.

    Safety is key here, and as a region, and I am sure all ratepayers would like to see an end to your internal squabbling and point scoring, and a concentration on sourcing significant funding to assist the community acquire safer roads.

  3. About time Council woke up and saw how crazy it is to fund this project. To spend $1,250,000 on 10 houses (7 of which would actually benefit from sealing) is insane when there are tens of millions in backlog defects that aren’t prioritised under current and future budgets.

    The squeaky wheel shouldn’t get the grease when it’s not important to the whole region, it’s probably a jockey wheel.

    Councils across Australia are feeling the brunt of this weather, plus construction costs never being higher.

    If this council wants to avoid a 6% rate rise, they need to utilise all available funding on maintaining assets! Simple stuff..

  4. Council are doing the job necessary to establish if $1,250,000 should be allocated to seal a 1.4km section of road in the region that has no significant bearing to the amount of traffic it receives. If the works carried out in 2020 have directly led to water run off issues this needs fixing. The cost just does not add up to the benefit, have promises been made without due process?

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