Getting Bells Line of Road back on track

17 May 2021

Crews are continuing to gather information about the ground conditions along Bells Line of Road in order to inform the best plan of attack to fully restore the road and improve its resilience to big rain events.

Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro said while access along the road was re-opened on 11 April, a five-kilometre section remained under traffic control due to extensive flood damage.

"The NSW Government is committed to building a safer and stronger regional NSW by helping communities get back on their feet as quickly as possible after the devastating floods," Mr Barilaro said.

"There is a lot of work being done to make sure we safe-proof this road for future floods and this includes measuring vertical movements of slope and testing soil moisture content.

"A drilling rig is also being used in a number of locations at Mount Tomah to provide critical information regarding the current soil conditions which will inform next steps in the repairs."

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said while people are very eager to see the Bells Line of Road open to full operation, it’s a complex and challenging road to repair.

"The teams are out there around the clock conducting detailed testing of the underlying rock condition and the movement of water to ensure that whatever works we carry out fix the problem in the long-term," Mr Toole said.

"Adding to all that, as anyone who drives this road regularly would know, it's a very tricky environment to get machinery and trucks into, while maintaining a single lane of access.

"The main priority is ensuring that our workers and our motorists are safe. I know the delays are hard, the detours are frustrating and the timeline to get this road back to pre-flood conditions seems long, but it is essential that we do it safely and thoroughly, so that these communities are not in this position again in the future."

Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said Bells Lines of Road will remain open, subject to daily monitoring, as slopes are susceptible to weather events that may result in planned or unplanned closures.

"To accurately measure local rainfall, a rain gauge has been installed at the location of the slope failure at Mt Tomah," Mr Constance said.

"The slope held up well following recent local rainfall of 42.6mm within a 24-hour period. However, rainfall of 15mm or more does trigger a management plan which includes a meeting of the Risk Management Group, site inspections and pending severity of the weather event - possible changed traffic conditions or road closures."

Changed traffic conditions remain in place including traffic control and a reduced speed limit of 40 km/h.

Motorists are advised to expect delays, plan their trip and continue to use alternative routes where possible, especially if travelling to the Central West.

This includes allowing additional travel time, driving to the conditions and following the directions of signs and traffic control.

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