News, road works

Road expected to be closed for ‘many months’ after significant flood damage

WITH huge slabs of concrete washed away, and culverts destroyed, Wollongong City Council is expecting Otford Road to be closed “for many months” after last week’s flooding.

A section of Otford Road either side of the weir is closed, and will remain closed for some time as Council looks to repair the causeway.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said the damage shows the power of the flooding incident.

“To see those heavy slabs of road lifted and moved or wedged on their sides really brings home the power of the water that was flowing through this area and reached heights of more than two metres over the causeway,” he said.

“We’re very fortunate no one was seriously hurt or injured in last week’s wild weather. Overall, the city handled the weather quite well, but this causeway that was first build in the 1970s wasn’t able to withstand the energy of water that passed through the Hacking River Creek.”

Council’s General Manager Greg Doyle said the road link was important to those living in the Otford, Helensburgh and Stanwell Park. He said Council was looking to fast-track repairs.

“I know this closure is challenging and it has an impact on residents and families,” he said.

“We are taking immediate steps to get the necessary plans in place to ensure the road is repaired as soon as possible.

“However, we need to be upfront as this is not an overnight fix. It will take time. We are focussed on minimising this time as much as possible, while also rebuilding a causeway that is better able to withstand flooding incidents and meets community expectations.’’

As part of Council’s asset improvement planning, an investigation was carried out in 2020 on whether the causeway could be replaced with a bridge. The results found a bridge would need to span approximately 90 metres to provide safe access in major flood events, and that this would not be feasible at this location.

“There is simply not enough room to construct a bridge of this size and height at this location,’’ Cr Bradbery said.

“The geology, topography and landscape at this location, as well as the impact on residents and private property, means that a bridge is just not an option that is on the table.

“What we are looking at is how we might rebuild the existing causeway with improvements to help it withstand flood events.

“We’ll be working with key departments like NSW Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries) to get the right permits and approvals in place, as we fast-track a tender for the works, confirm the new design and get orders in for the materials required to complete the work.

“This area was hit hard by the intense rainfalls and other roads have been impacted. We have been working with Transport for NSW to coordinate works in this area and to minimise impact on the community and bus services.

“We are still experiencing delays with the delivery of some building materials so we’re moving as quickly as we can to lock in all the steps of a construction project like this one to minimise the disruption.’’

Cr Bradbery said while Council can’t confirm a timeframe to complete the works as yet, it is likely the road will remain closed for many months.

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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.


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