General News

Better road closure data needed

NSW Farmers is calling on local and state governments to work together on providing up-to-date road closure information as water from Queensland approaches already-soaked communities.

Farmers in the north of the state are bracing for even worse flooding after weeks of heavy rain wreaked havoc on crumbling local roads, with exhaustion taking its toll among rural towns along the NSW-Queensland border.

The additional floodwater could not come at a worse time for those farmers who have had to delay harvest due to the soggy conditions; there is significant road damage and contractors are moving to dryer areas, meaning northern grain farmers are facing significant delays before harvesting can recommence.

NSW Farmers President James Jackson said the situation was made worse by inconsistent information about the state of the roads, calling for all levels of government to clearly communicate with each other and the public in real time about road closures.

“People are telling me they’re travelling miles and miles down a road only to find it impassable, meaning their journeys take even longer as they backtrack and criss-cross the countryside,” Mr Jackson said.

“Councils and emergency services are doing their best given the circumstances, and the state government’s Live Traffic NSW app works well for those larger highways, but there’s a gap where these sources of information often aren’t talking to each other.

“Surely in 2021 we can get all of these things feeding together into the Live Traffic NSW App or Google Maps or something so people can quickly get an idea of where they should – and should not – go.”

These rural roads are the lifeblood of regional communities and critical for farmers. While information about the state of heavily used highways is important, so too are the regional roads that connect towns and villages to these major thoroughfares. Mr Jackson said everyone had heard the message about how dangerous it was to drive on flooded roads and bridges and encouraged drivers not to take any risks.

“I understand we’re all being tested by this flooding, but country folk are pretty resilient, and I’m pleased to hear of people working together to get safely through these floods,” Mr Jackson said.

“NSW Farmers will continue to listen to our members and communities and find common sense solutions that can be acted on by government.”