Need for urgent upgrade on Long Gully Road

EIGHTEEN years ago Margaret Spinks’s teenage son David died in a triple fatality on a gravel road that residents told a Hunter council was ‘‘an accident waiting to happen’’.

She can’t face the agony again.

Which is why Mrs Spinks and her neighbours will meet Singleton councillors tonight to demand work on the badly degraded gravel Long Gully Road, after being told road maintenance was carried out ‘‘to the limits of what council can afford’’.

Residents say the $1.5million the council has spent on code of conduct debacles since 2009 should not have an impact on the safety of their road.

‘‘My three grandchildren. That’s my main worry,’’ Mrs Spinks said.

‘‘We all live on the same property. If anything happened to them on that road, I don’t know how I’d survive it.’’

The 2.8-kilometre stretch of gravel road is graded once a year.

It is potholed and rutted, and its causeway needs work.

But at meetings with council representatives this year, residents were told there was no money for causeways; the road maintenance budget was slashed; Long Gully Road wasn’t ‘‘that bad’’, and if residents wanted the causeway improved or the road upgraded they might have to fund it themselves.

Mrs Spinks and her family have lived on Long Gully Road for seven years. The road was graded three times a year when she first moved there, she said.

‘‘You used to be able to drive at 80km/h on that road. Now you’re down to 20km/h in some sections because you have to drive around the potholes and over the corrugations,’’ she said.

‘‘We’re not asking a lot and I’ve said to them, don’t worry about tar, as long as we can drive safely.’’

Mrs Spinks said drugs and alcohol were not a factor in the crash on Old North Road outside Cessnock on May 11, 1994, in which her son and two friends died as they drove home from TAFE.

‘‘The police said they weren’t speeding. They just went off the gravel and hit a tree on a road everyone said was an accident waiting to happen.’’

Singleton councillor Alison Howlett said the $1.5million spent on code of conduct cases was a ‘‘travesty’’.

‘‘Rates, roads and rubbish. That’s what councils are supposed to provide, and instead we’ve wasted precious ratepayers’ money on codes of conduct,’’ she said.

Councillors will consider a report on the road tonight.

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