Fight to save Dignams Creek entrance
A NEW plan by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) to realign the Princes Highway at Dignams Creek has rung alarm bells in the local community.
Vice-president of the Dignams Creek Community Group, Alan Burdon, said, “The new alignment effectively dammed the creek, destroyed the river flats and laid waste to the natural and cultural heritage of the area.”
Following community consultation, a previous route for the upgrading of the Princes Highway at Dignams Creek to the east was supported by local residents in 2011. The RTA (as it was) purchased Pretty Farm which would be significantly affected by the realignment.
However, in late 2012 the RMS announced a new proposal switching from a high level bridge to the east of the existing Dignams Creek Bridge to an embankment across the full width of the river flats to the west.
The community was not impressed, and many felt the bridge would have been a feature rather than an eyesore, unlike the proposed embankment.
“The loss of visual and audible amenity for residents close to the road will be immense,” Mr Burdon said.
According to the RMS, the eastern alignment required large scale works and would cost about $85 million, whereas the western option has lower cuttings and embankments and could be built at about half the cost.
Mr Burdon said that, under the new plan, the exit from Dignams Creek Road, frequented by timber jinkers, would be up a seven metre high incline with three 90 degree bends onto the highway.
“This is immediately adjacent to Blind Creek, an environmentally sensitive area,” he said. “Most of its eastern flank will be buried under the new embankment, and habitats of endangered fauna and koala migration routes will be buried.”
The community group believes the RMS has underestimated the levels of floods likely, claiming that the effective damming of the river flats will create an increased hazard. They say the flats form a natural retention basin, relieving areas downstream from damaging torrents.
“If culverts through the embankment are blocked - and Dignams Creek carries massive amounts of debris in flood - it is likely that properties upstream will be inundated,” Mr Burdon said.
“Before European settlement the Dignams Creek Bridge area was a thriving focus of aboriginal life. After Europeans arrived a village developed, and while the population has now dispersed and the organs of village life such as church and school no longer exist, they have left ample archaeological evidence.
“The proposed road will drive straight through this culturally significant environment.”
The Dignams Creek Community Group has compiled a submission that they believe offers a viable alternative.
Their proposal makes use of the natural ridges around the creek and includes a shorter, lower bridge to the east with an embankment at either end.
The RMS concept design for the upgrade is on public display with the submission period closing on this Friday, February 8.