Culvert works creating headaches for locals

Culvert works creating headaches for locals

The Neerigen Brook culvert replacement is nearing completion, with the large tunnel segments now in place. Photograph - City of Armadale

The City of Armadale is celebrating nearing the completion of its ambitious Neerigen Brook culvert replacement.

The project is on track to finish by late February as originally communicated by the city, contrary to the February 16 end date it said was “incorrectly listed” by the traffic management company on the variable message sign.

The new culvert will significantly widen the tunnel which allows water to flow under Carradine Road to Sanctuary Lake, and prevent future flood events and potential road closures.

But patience is wearing thin for nearby residents and Armadale Primary School users who have struggled with the now six-week closure of Carradine Rd, and the long-winded diversions that are in place as part of the city’s traffic management plan.

Morning rush hour has become a daily battle with many parents trying to access the school’s one-way kiss-and-drop loop reporting near misses with some motorists deliberately driving in the wrong direction while using the loop as a thoroughfare from Carradine Rd to the Albany Highway.

City of Armadale Chief Executive Officer Joanne Abbiss has said they have contacted police and Main Roads about “road users driving illegally by ignoring the detours and making illegal manoeuvres” but that no one was able to police issues occurring on private property.

“Enforcement is the responsibility of WA Police on Albany Hwy and public roads. Unfortunately, WAPOL and the City Rangers have no jurisdiction on private property,” she said.

She said the city had increased the ranger’s presence to target illegal parking and the police had been targeting illegal driving on public roads after being alerted to it by the city.

But parents have voiced their disgust that no authorities appear to be taking control of the dangerous situation inside the school zone.

“I have emailed, the police, City of Armadale, Toni Buti and Main Roads. Those that have responded have passed the buck and said it’s the school’s issue as it’s private property,” Tegan Pateman said.

“Even though the main reason is because of the detours set in place. According to the culvert web page it states if the detours aren’t followed correctly, specifically the ring road, the ranger and police will be involved. The school are the only ones that have made the effort in a situation that really isn’t on them to police.”

“The lack of accountability by anyone (COA, police, etc.) is disgraceful, as is the attitude of those motorists who choose to ignore the No Entry sign and drive the wrong way down a ‘one way’ road,” Amanda Talma-Speedy said.

There have also been complaints from parents travelling down the hill from Bedfordale for school drop-offs and pick-ups who are angry that the right-hand turn has been blocked off to motorists wanting to execute a U-turn into the adjacent school car park.

“It’s a shame that it’s extremely dangerous as a parent to enter the school car park due to the City of Armadale blocking off the entry points coming from Bedfordale. So dangerous with the amount of illegal U-turns and near misses,” Kat Jolley said.

“The City of Armadale won’t listen to the pleas of school parents about the dangerous road closes and traffic management plan affecting all parents trying to access school premises for their children, and refuses to communicate with parents and the school over these issues.”

Ms Abbiss said Main Roads dictates the traffic management rules on the Albany Highway.

“Under the current temporary closure of the turning lane, U-turns are not permitted, per standards and guidance set out by MRWA,” she said.

“Drivers should not be performing illegal U-turns on Albany Highway as it is highly dangerous. Drivers are required by law to follow the diversions set out in place by the accredited traffic control company.

“Impatient drivers performing illegal driving manoeuvres are increasing the likelihood of an accident occurring at this location. It is a legal requirement of all road users to adhere to the road codes and follow all diversions in place.”

The situation remains tense with two weeks to go until Carradine Rd reopens, and the persisting heatwave preventing many students from walking to school.

“Must admit, bit of poor planning from the CoA … was five to six weeks of school holidays not enough time to have the works affecting the traffic flow done?” Casey Lummis said.

“Also, workers telling the public it’s another four weeks away from finishing? So, which one is it?” Amber Wright said.

The City of Armadale has reiterated the project’s late-February end date on social media, and said that demolition works didn’t begin until three weeks into the school holidays and the road “deliberately left open during the holiday break to minimise the impact during the festive season”.

“Construction crews began demolishing the old infrastructure on the very first day of the road closure,” Ms Abbiss said.

“They have been working continuously since the closure, including on Saturdays. A project of this nature generally requires a road closure between 12 to 16 weeks. The city is working to a shortened timeline, aiming to do this in eight weeks. Contractors are working on the weekends and extended hours during the day, including during the heat waves where extreme temperatures have reached up to 43C.”

Photograph courtesy of City of Armadale

Mayor Ruth Butterfield has implored everyone for their patience for the remaining weeks of the construction.

“For everyone’s safety, it’s important that all residents and road users follow the temporary rules and guidance. We really appreciate the community’s patience and cooperation as we perform these necessary road works,” she said.