3 June, 2022

Washouts hit Somerset region

A SPATE of road washouts has hit the Somerset region, including two major failures last week.

The Scrub Creek Rd causeway was one of three washouts in the Somerset region in recent weeks.
The Scrub Creek Rd causeway was one of three washouts in the Somerset region in recent weeks.

The biggest washout happened on the Brisbane Valley Highway on Wednesday, with the southbound lane collapsing at Wivenhoe Pocket.

A TMR spokesperson said the failure was caused by the recent heavy rainfall events, which eroded soil from under the road.

“Ongoing wet weather, including recent severe rain, has impacted the road network across the North Coast region,” the spokesperson said.

 “Alongside our contractors, we are undertaking regular inspections across the network.

 “We know there is a lot of damage around the region and repairs are being undertaken as soon as possible.

 “Identified safety hazards are addressed as a priority as soon as weather and road conditions permit.”

Andrew Johnson, CEO of Somerset Regional Council, said the region had experienced  a ‘fair share’ of weather-related road failures, but he was confident the road network remained in good condition.

“Due to Council’s active road resealing program, damage to Council’s sealed road network has been minimised and generally isolated to the road edge or where the road has been inundated by water for an extended period,” Mr Johnson said.

“Unsealed road networks are more susceptible to flood and, or, storm water damage as the pavement is unprotected from water.”

Mr Johnson said the council had undertaken an electronic survey of the entire road network, firstly in December 2021, and then agin in the wake of the February-March rain and flood event.

“A flood event like the one we have just experienced will always result in damage to the road network.

“Council regularly tests the road network via an electronic survey, the technology provides an online mapping environment to visually show all the roads that Council owns and maintains. 

“Priority works are mapped based on condition, so we know where, when and how often roads need to be maintained or developed.”

Road failures had a number of possible causes, Mr Johnson said, related to heavy rainfall events.

“Reasons are varied and many, faults can be due to water springs, water table rises, saturation of pavement, expansive clays, liquification, and more.”

Despite the failure of the Scrub Creek Rd causeway leaving a number of residents stranded, Mr Johnson said as of Monday afternoon,  the council had not received any requests for assistance.

“Council can help with getting non-perishable food from A to B and council would likely seek support from the SES or a helicopter, in addition, in an emergency residents should contact 000.”

Speaking after the causeway collapsed, Graeme Lehmann, Somerset Regional Council Mayor, said the council would be contacting the Queensland Reconstruction Authority, for assistance in repairing or replacing the causeway and bridge, once the river dropped to a safe level to allow workers to inspect the damage.

Mr Johnson said the collapse reinforced the safety message of ‘If it is flooded, forget it’, as there was no way of knowing if a road had suffered ‘subsurface’ damage.


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