Boorga Road: A source of constant concern for residents and emergency service members.
After decades of actively fighting for a sealed road, an accident on the weekend has prompted Captain of the Boorga Bush Fire Brigade Michael Pfitzner to renew calls for Boorga Road to be sealed.
Mr Pfitzner said the accident on Saturday was the fourth he has attended in just over a month, and says it’s a matter of when, not if, a fatality will happen.
“I have attended several of these accidents as Captain of the Boorga Bush Fire Brigade and fear one of the next accidents will result in a serious injury, or worse still a death,” Mr Pfitzner said.
One such accident occurred just four days after Christmas, where a woman rolled her car and was lucky to escape without serious injury before her car caught on fire.
Mr Pfitzner said it’s estimated that 400 people use the road on a daily basis as well as approximately 20-30 heavy vehicle movements a day, especially now in the peak of the summer fruit harvest.
I’m over it. Accidents are occurring on this road on a far too regular basis. This road needs to be sealed now before a serious accident occurs resulting in death.Captain of Boorga Bush Fire Brigade Michael Pfitzner.
Back in 2013, Nericon farmers Wayne Andreatta and Rocky Rombola demanded action on the "atrocious" condition of Boorga Road, and demonstrated in a letter presented at council that year.
Council infrastructure and operations director at Griffith City Council Dallas Bibby at the time assured the farmers Boorga Road was on the list of roads to be constructed and sealed but said it was a “very long list.”
The year 2013 also marked 25 years of resident’s calls to fix the road, and still five years later that reassurance, the road has still not been sealed.
Mr Phil King, Council Director of Infrastructure and Operations, was approached to provide an update on the road.
“Boorga Rd is one of a number of gravel roads in the LGA that would benefit from being sealed. The current focus for Council's capital works program, which is heavily dependant on State allocation of funding, is on the continued development of the Griffith Southern Industrial Link Road. Council's other priority is the ongoing maintenance of the existing road network, which includes Boorga Road. The maintenance program does not allow for an upgrade from one surface type to another.
“Acknowledging Boorga Road is not currently funded for sealing, Council is investigating alternative options for funding a sealing project in partnership with local Boorga Road farmers.”
“Council's traffic counts for the gravel section of Boorga Road indicate 200 light vehicles a day, and during harvest times there can be a high percentage of heavy vehicles sharing the road as well.”
“The onus is always on the driver to drive to the conditions of the road and this would include allowing time to take evasive action if required. Due to the changing nature of a gravel road surface there are always the potential for hazards for a driver to be wary of. It is strongly recommended that drivers take the time to be careful, reduce speed when on coming vehicles approach and ensure they plan their journey to allow time to arrive safely.”
Despite Griffith City Council regularly grading the stretch, Mr Pfitzner said the rate of accidents still occurring is unacceptable.
“The Griffith Council do grade the road periodically but now after less than two weeks Boorga Road has returned to a terrible state,” Mr Pfitzner said.
“If there was four accidents in a workplace within a month I’m certain that work-cover would mandate serious changes be made to the workplace to make it safe for employees,” he said.
“If an employee puts his hand in an auger whilst in operation and loses a hand, you can’t say “well you shouldn’t have put your hand in there”. No, the auger has to be guarded so that a hand can’t get in there whilst in operation.”
In his first-hand experience, Boorga Road has had far too many accidents on it over a very long period to just brush this issue aside or “start finger pointing” whose problem it is.
“I’m sure police will argue it’s driver error, Council will argue that the Farms that use Boorga Road knew the road was light use only, before they expanded operations. But users would argue the road is not maintained to a satisfactory level.”
“Accidents are happening regularly, and they need to stop.”