Politicians take bus from Smithton to Marrawah to experience uneven surface of Bass Highway
Kathryn Bermingham - The Advocate - 31 Oct 2016
A school bus operator is calling for urgent repairs to the Bass Highway west of Smithon, amid concerns for the safety of student passengers.
On Monday, operator Wells Wagons invited politicians and councillors to experience first hand the uneven surface of the highway.
The group took the bus from Smithton to Marrawah and back to gain a better understanding of the repairs required.
Among them were Braddon MHA Joan Rylah, Murchison MLC Ruth Forrest and Circular Head Mayor Daryl Quilliam.
Following the trip, Ms Rylah announced eight kilometres of road in the Dismal Swamp/Welcome Swamp area would be resurfaced early next year, but acknowledged more serious structural repairs were needed.
“The big issue is the rebuilding of the base and that is major,” she said.
“Some of the challenges with that are that when they start to do that, they’ve got to be able to have the log trucks and, in particular, the tankers have a route that they can get around on, and because they’re so heavy and it’s a swamp, you’re basically having to build a second road.”
Wells Waggons believes the section of road in question should be elevated from Category 5 (Tasmanian Strategic State Road Network), meaning it would receive more regular maintenance.
General manager Kimbra Wells said the current state of the road presented serious safety issues.
“We are very concerned regarding the uneven surface on many of the sections, and believe that for the safety of the school children on school buses there is major work required, not just re-surfacing repairs,” she said.
“The road is, in some places, so uneven that if we meet another large vehicle, we are worried that the vehicles may hit each other and a serious accident could occur, due to no fault of either driver.”
Her views were echoed by Cr Quilliam, who said the road was not equipped for modern-day usage.
“The issue with this road is it was built when there was much smaller vehicles, and because they are swamps there’s a lot of timber under the road,” he said.
“The way they were built originally meant that they just buried the trees under the road, so the trees, as they’re rotting, are just allowing the indents in the road.”