Access-road plans stall

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Margaret River Coastal Residents Association president Adrian Wilson doesn’t believe a second-access road to Gnarabup is a good idea.
Camera IconMargaret River Coastal Residents Association president Adrian Wilson doesn’t believe a second-access road to Gnarabup is a good idea. Credit: Declan Bush/file image

A State Government-led plan to develop second-access roads to Prevelly and Gracetown has gone nowhere in the past three years, despite the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River nominating a preferred route.

The Times understands the project, led by Main Roads WA, remains without any budget allocation despite increasing calls from residents concerned about traffic if Gnarabup’s Westin Margaret River Spa & Resort project is approved.

Shire sustainable development and infrastructure director Nick Logan said discussions on bushfire risk mitigation would take place with resort developer Luke Saraceni, but no contribution to a new road was flagged.

MRWA confirmed a State Government working group — which included Main Roads, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, and others — convened after the 2011 Margaret River bushfires and filed a report in May 2013 identifying viable second-access options for Prevelly and Gracetown.

After more detailed studies, five alignments were put forward for Prevelly and six for Gracetown.

The Shire council endorsed a 1.37km extension of Rainbow Cave Road to Wallcliffe Road in 2017.

The preferred Gracetown route of a 4.4km north-sound inland road from Salter Street to Ellen Brook Road was not endorsed by the Shire on environmental grounds but has Department of Planning support.

“Further development of the proposed alignment options is required, along with consultation,” MRWA said.

Residents have long feared single access to the coastal hamlets would put locals at risk in the event of another bushfire. But Coastal Residents Association president Adrian Wilson said he did not believe a second road was warranted because seeking shelter at the beach was the safest option for residents trapped by fire. “Build more roads, get more cars,” he said.

“A second road would cause major traffic problems in Gnarabup/Prevelly.

“Mitchell Drive would be a nightmare. Traffic would have to be routed via the bypass road,” he said.

“The beach would become a scenic drive, and add to the already bad traffic, especially with additional development vehicles etc.”

Mr Wilson believed a second road could also mislead residents into thinking they had an escape route, despite road closures during major fires.

Resort developer Luke Saraceni said he would welcome a second Gnarabup road if residents wanted it, but he would not be paying.

Instead, he said the road, if it addressed fire risks, was a good candidate for State and Federal infrastructure stimulus funding.

Shire president Ian Earl agreed with Mr Saraceni’s view the additional traffic generated by the resort would be minimal compared to busy times of the year.

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