WORK is progressing well on the Eurobodalla Shire Council project to install a 221-step stairway connecting Hillcrest Avenue to the Narooma Bridge.
The Narooma News undertook a tour of the project on Thursday morning with mayor Lindsay Brown.
The stairway is extensive consisting of 13 flights of steps connected by concrete pathways down the steep gully and when complete will actually measure 300 metres in comparison to the nearby Narooma boardwalk.
There had always been a rough track down the power line easement that residents used, but now the new stairway should make access easier and safer.
Clr Brown said this had been one of his earliest objectives from when he first ran for council, recalling meetings with the hilltop residents frustrated by the lack of access and dangerous crossing of the Princes Highway.
“This included disabled residents with all the residents have to deal with the steep track down the hillside to get access to town,” he said.
“We sought funding and ended up deciding it was enough of a priority to fund out of council’s own budget.”
The disability and access issues were discussed at neighbourhood meeting on Hillcrest Avenue several years ago where staff explained building ramps all the way down the steep gully was not practical.
One of the more perhaps ambitious suggestions was for raised walkway across the highway, but this again was not financially feasible.
Divisional manager for technical services Greg Miller said the $200,000 budgeted should pretty much see out the project that will be complete in a couple of months, although some additional funds might be necessary to build larger viewing platforms.
These like the stairway's steps and railings would be made of blackbutt (eucalyptus patens) timber.
Council was proud the project that was being done completely in-house with the help of local contractors – “from the design to the labour to the carpentry and joinery,” Miller said.
This in-house approach was also taken for the extensive $4.2million Narooma Flat streetscaping project currently underway just up the highway, that this week saw more park infrastructure being installed.
Power lines around the new roundabout were going down replaced with more aesthetically please underground cables, while new park infrastructure including Paddle Pop shaped seats and signs will complement hand-hewn stonewalls.
Speaking of craftsmanship, the works supervisor on the Hillcrest Avenue stairway is Steve Dobson, who also used his carpentry skills to build the boardwalk 12 years ago.
Dobson said locals and visitors had already stopped at top of where the new stairway will end at the top of the gully to take photos of the view, and the stairway should be another tourism asset for the town.
And the workers joked that the local fitness fanatics would now have an additional set of stairs to compliment the already popular Australia Rock stairway.