Rain won’t add to pain

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Traffic was more subdued on Margaret River's main strip this week.
Camera IconTraffic was more subdued on Margaret River's main strip this week.

Multiple days of heavy rain will not delay Margaret River’s main street redevelopment, according to project managers.

Downpours this week sparked questions among business operators already reeling from the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and its potentially devastating consequences for the local economy.

The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River formed a pandemic response group this week to deal with urgent business during the crisis, but it remained uncertain whether the redevelopment would be affected.

“Fortunately, the majority of rainfall has occurred out of working hours when the worksite has been covered,” Shire project manager Peter Brown said.

“Dewatering and filtration systems are in place to assist with removing excess water from the job site.

“The existing stormwater network is still intact and able to cope with the current rainfall.”

Mr Brown said the road closure at the north end of Bussell Highway would be moved slightly south, in line with Margarets Forest Holiday Apartments, and roadworks would move into the Churchill Avenue and Tunbridge Street intersection today, depending on the weather. “Local traffic will be able to accesses businesses north of this point,” he said.

Chamber president Melissa d’Ath said an update meeting with the Shire was cancelled this week, while a brainstorming session on Monday night at the Margaret River Hotel was quickly subsumed by talk of COVID-19.

Traders had met again to discuss ways to support main street businesses during the redevelopment.

Jahroc Gallery owner Gary Bennett told the Times he remained frustrated at the road closure and had had visitors complaining this week.

Mr Bennett said a lack of information from the Shire on agreed timelines added to the difficulties.

“I don’t believe businesses in town can cope with (a four-week closure),” he said.

“With all the coronavirus chaos going on at the moment, business is hard enough already.

“We had a few people in the gallery on the weekend who were warned off visiting Margaret River as they compared it to a war zone.”

Mr Brown said Churchill Avenue would close this weekend, but motorists could access parking behind main street shops via Ned Higgins Lane.

A parking map is online at mainstreetmakeover.com.au.

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