Delight as Elliott Way reopens

The reopening of Elliott Way has been warmly welcomed in Tumbarumba, and is combining with the lifting of many Covid-19 restrictions to bring some much-needed optimism to the local community.

The road opened on 2pm on Friday, following completion of significant safety repairs following fire and storm damage, as well as subsequent landslips.

Snowy Valleys Councillor and Tumbarumba resident Bruce Wright is delighted with the news.

“It is terrific; it is going to help a lot of people,” he said.

“People coming up from the coast and coming through to Wagga will stop in Tumbarumba.”

Cr Wright would like the road to have been opened well before now, but concedes that the job was much bigger than most people realised.

“Nobody really knew the extent of the damage until they started digging into it,” he said.

“The extra rain events didn’t help and then there was Covid on top of that.”

He is among those who will take advantage of the opening as soon as he can.

“I have a brother who lives in Adaminaby and I am going to visit him,” he said.

Cr Wright believes that with Elliott Way open and the continuing relaxation Covid restrictions, the next 12 months will be better than that which preceded it.

“Next year will be brighter for Tumbarumba for sure,” he said.   

“I am always optimistic about Tumbarumba. It is a very resilient community; we can get through anything and we support each other.”

Tumbarumba Motel office manager Jessica Spratling said the opening was fantastic news.

“It is really exciting; great news,” she said.

“I went out there on the weekend.”

Combined with the relaxing of Covid rules, it means much better times for the motel.

“We are booked out solidly for the next three nights, and I haven’t been able to say that in months,” she said.

“It is surreal telling people who ring that we don’t have any rooms available. 

“Our guests have been really looking forward to doing the loop (which takes in Elliott Way), taking in the whole Snowy Valleys area,” she said.

“With Elliott Way closed they have struggled with this because it adds an extra hour, making it such a long trip. The reopened Elliott Way is going to be a really good asset to use.”

She is impressed with the effort put in to repair the road after damage done by fire and flooding.

“They did a tremendous job; everyone has done really well,” she said.

Ryan Petrov, Manager Southern Ranges Services for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), thanked the community for their patience while the most complex parts of the road repairs were completed.

“Shortly after the 2019-20 summer bushfires, heavy rainfall inundated the bare landscape, leading to damage to the roadway. The rainfall blocked culverts with sediment which caused stormwater runoff to overtop the embankments, creating erosion and undermining the road surface which resulted in four significant slip sites,” he said.

“The extensive damage was of a scale not previously experienced through this area, and required removal of tens of thousands of tonnes of debris. Unexpected ground conditions caused delays that in some cases required design changes and revision of work methods and resourcing.

“Despite severe weather which caused further delays in recent months, NPWS  has completed the critical structural works, reinstatement of the road base, and embankment stabilisation which required 20,000 tonnes of rock.”

Completion of ongoing superficial works and resealing of the road surface over the summer may require some brief, planned closures but but Mr Petrov said these will be communicated well in advance and timed to minimise disruption.

“With these works nearing completion the road can now reopen to reinstate the important link from Tumbarumba to the east of the Great Dividing Range. The full road opening follows on from the recent partial opening that allowed access to the popular O’Hare’s campground in early October.

“Despite this good news, it is important to recognise that the impacts from the fires can still be felt along the road corridor. The steep surrounding landscape remains severely impacted from the loss of vegetation. Recent heavy rainfall events have triggered further landslips and work will be ongoing to manage these.

“The nature of the Elliott Way road corridor has significantly changed since the fires and it is important that the community is aware that further road closures may be caused by slips or rockfalls at short notice.”