• Tony Bosworth

Road closure all this coming weekend isolates Wisemans - threatens local business survival

Updated: Dec 11, 2021

This weekend the Wisemans community are effectively going to be cut off after Transport for NSW decided to make road repairs all weekend and close the only main road down into the valley community.

There was no public consultation, Hawkesbury Council had not been told about the works – Hills Shire Council have been involved in the plans – and residents were only told this last Thursday.

One of the reasons TfNSW gives for the intensive weekend work is to avoid disrupting school bus runs in the week, yet the schools only have just under two weeks left before summer holidays and locals are asking why they couldn’t wait.

Emma-Jane Garrow, who many know as a leading Hawkesbury independent councillor, told the Post that business owners had spoken to her about the road closure and none were happy.

“For the entire weekend they are going to be cut off at Wisemans. The tourism community have already been doing it tough because of floods and Covid and they are just beginning to recover and now they’re told the Old Northern Road is going to be closed during what would normally be a very busy weekend. It’s just not good enough,” she said.

The closure and the long way around...

And it’s not just businesses - Ms Garrow says she’s been told of one family who are having to cancel a long-planned 21st birthday celebration.

The major repairs to the road and roadside barriers are being carried out because back in September a large truck got out of control coming down into Wisemans Ferry, failed to negotiate a tight bend, crashed through the road barriers, tumbled down the cliff side and took part of the convict built retaining wall with it.

The damage caused by the truck crash was substantial – fortunately the driver escaped with little more than bruising - it crashed right through the barrier and damaged the convict heritage stone there too but it seems when the truck was pulled back up, instead of using a crane it was dragged up using two tow trucks and that caused even more damage to the heritage convict built wall.

“Essentially, TfNSW are shutting down all the local businesses for one entire weekend,” says Ms Garrow.

“Yes, the work, the repairs, have to be done, but give people a window on Friday and Saturday when the road can be kept open.”

There are some workaround routes but they are lengthy and will be unfamiliar to visitors to the region, not to mention they're not up to coping with caravans or large vehicles.

A Transport for NSW spokesperson said the Old Northern Road work involves replacing the guardrail, repairing the retaining wall, resurfacing the road and removing debris from the slope.

“This work will require major traffic changes, including full road closures across weeknights and a weekend,” the spokesperson said.

“Transport for NSW has consulted with local councils, police and businesses to ensure they are prepared and to minimise impacts for affected communities,” said the spokesperson.

But Ms Garrow says that is largely untrue, with local businesses saying there was no prior consultation, no discussion about the best times to do the work, and only a week’s notice.

“This will be particularly bad for anyone coming to the area for a booked holiday, she says, with the suggested detour being a very long way around and unlikely to be taken by weekend visitors who don’t really know the area.

And while the truck accident happened almost 3 months ago it has taken TfNSW this long to decide to do it now.

“Transport for NSW is aware this is taking place right before the school holidays but extensive investigations have determined that urgent safety work needs to be carried out as soon as possible,” said their spokesperson.

“We hope the community will understand the situation and work with us as we make Old Northern Road safe.”

Work will take place at the following times:

Thursday 9 December from 7am to 5pm and Friday 10 December from 6am to 9pm: single lane closure with access maintained in both directions under traffic control

From 9pm Friday 10 December to 6am Monday 13 December: full road closure with emergency and local access maintained under traffic control

Between 6am Monday 13 December and 7pm Friday 17 December:

Single lane closure between 6am to 7pm with access maintained in both directions under traffic control

Full road closure between 7pm to 6am with emergency and local access maintained under traffic control

Transport for NSW will only close the road when necessary and may not do so every weeknight

For more information, check variable message boards in the area, call 132 701, visit livetraffic.com or go to nswroads.work/oldnorthernroadsafety.

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