Esplanade reopened to local traffic

Debate continues around a troublesome section of Robe's Esplanade.

Robe District Council originally closed the section of road in question due to concerns about the instability of a cliff next to the road.

Acting on advice received in a report from Tonkin Consulting, the council at its October meeting decided to reopen the Esplanade road to local traffic.

However, an application will be made to the Minister of Transport to install a traffic control device load limit of three tonnes on the section of the Esplanade impacted by the cliff stability assessment to prevent heavy vehicles or cars towing boats and vans travelling along this section of road.

Elected members and engineers will be conducting an onsite visit to the road.

The report recommended that the public be prevented from accessing the toe of the cliff and areas that are undercut and the road be closed to vehicular traffic and the walkway be relocated within the road reserve.

Robe CEO Roger Sweetman said: “We obtained engineering design so that we know what our options are and we can go to the community with an option if we do decide to close the road. 

“Whilst we are going through the process of doing engineering design we don’t want heavy transport using it.”

Councillors were mixed on their views about whether a load limit should be imposed, with suggestions that necessary vehicles such as emergency services and rubbish collection could be denied access.

Cr Rino Dell'Antonio said: “I’ve looked at those undercuts and they don’t undercut as we’ve been shown in the diagrams, they do come close. We’ve got a larger undercut which we haven't acted on at the end of SeaVu caravan park which we have been told is going to fall in.

“We’ve also go an undercut when you drive to the obelisk where all the tourists go.” 

Cr David Loxton said: “I had a look at it today and there are no recent rock falls, we need to monitor it ourselves. Council should have an onsite meeting to discuss options.

“There is the rubbish collection, ambulance, all those sort of things will come into it and we need to get on with this.”

Deputy mayor Harvey Nolan said: “The time will come when some of that will collapse whether it be the footpath or whatever it might be.”

Cr Loxton said: “We haven't discussed any remedial work.” 

Cr Nolan responded: “Well that is why we are going to get some costings.”

Cr John Enright said: “We don’t know the significance of it but if we do nothing and something happens we will be culpable for that. 

“If we do something at least we are making an effort, we are trying to deal with it until we have more information.”

The report also recommended fencing off areas on the beach, “based on the assessment undertaken and reported herein, the risk to life to users of the beach and the risk to the roadway of The Esplanade itself required management. 

“Few practical alternatives for managing the risk to life for beach users are evident beyond preventing access to the section of beach closest to the cliff toe. We recommend that council installs fencing (or some other physical barrier) for the whole length between the access ramp and the walkway.

“Given the potential for that barrier to be breached, we also recommend installation of signage warning of the risk at intervals along the barrier as well as at both beach access points.”

This was not agreed upon at the council meeting.

Mr Sweetman said signage will be put up instead. 

“There is a risk to people on the beach from any piece of the cliff that does fall, signs will go before as quickly as possible,” he said.

Council will need to allocate funding at the first budget review for the costs associated with both the fencing and the road closure and associated works.