A Bungonia district quarry has been ordered to effect urgent repairs on its haul route as a matter of road safety.
The council will fund the estimated $1.78 million in work but recoup the money through increased section 94 contributions over five years.
Multiquip Quarries has been accused of undertaking "sub-standard work" on Jerrara Road and Oallen Ford Road, an 18km stretch connecting to the Hume Highway.
Councillors heard at their meeting on Tuesday that a 3.2km section of Jerrara Road between South Marulan Road and Prairie Oak Road and 1.7km of Oallen Ford Road had broken up badly since the company upgraded the route in the past year.
"The work there has not met appropriate standards and that is the nub of the issue," operations director Matt O'Rourke said.
He told the meeting that the condition was a matter of urgent road safety, with 30 "high risk" areas. This was borne out in a road safety audit commissioned by the council in July.
Pavement defects were concentrated in the travel lane's outer edge or in the road shoulder's sealed section. There were also more prominent in the northbound lane which Mr O'Rourke said bore the main load of Multiquip's Sydney-bound trucks. Some 88 of the company's vehicles use the road daily.
A 60km/h speed limit was recently imposed to reduce the danger but the audit revealed this was regularly flouted.
The Ardmore Park quarry on Oallen Ford Road won state approval in 2009 but the haul route's widening didn't start until 2016. Mr O'Rourke said the company "self-performed" the northbound lane's upgrade when it wasn't necessarily experienced to do so. A contractor upgraded the southbound lane, which was in better condition but didn't bear the same load.
A council officer also oversaw work. Mr O'Rourke said some problems were addressed as a result but the road's true condition wasn't fully revealed until lab tests were returned. He told councillors he'd been asking Multiquip for 18 months for these tests.
"Because of the length of the road they were supposed to do a certain number of tests," he told The Post.
"They've only done about half and the ones they've provided us with have not all met the (engineering) standards...It is very obvious the widened parts of the road have failed."
Mr O'Rourke attributed this to insufficient pavement thickness and compaction.
The council's road condition report in May showed that road width was reduced as a result, there was pavement fatigue along wheel paths, rutting which attracted moisture and table drains didn't allow water to drain freely. Further, vehicles were veering towards the centre line to avoid road failures, heightening the risk of crashes.
The council has had several meetings with Multiquip since November but Mr O'Rourke said he didn't believe any work was "imminent." General manager Warwick Bennett told councillors he wasn't impressed by representatives' attitude or convinced they wanted to resolve the problem.
He was responding to some councillors' suggestion the matter be deferred to allow further negotiation.
Quarry rep argues case
Earlier, during public forum, quarry operations manager Steve Wall said Multiquip had already spent $10m on the haul route and questioned where its section 94 funds had been spent. But Mr O'Rourke replied that $800,000 had been allocated to the road in the past two years. He also reiterated that the fees were for maintenance and not to repair work "not done properly in the first instance."
Mr Wall said Multiquip "did not have unlimited funds."
"The quarry has been selling sand for three and a half years and all surplus funds have been reinvested. Owners have not taken any dividend to date," he said.
In meetings, the company had told the council it could not afford the upfront cost. However Mr Wall said Multiquip was prepared to contribute more on a "no-fault commercial basis" and work with the council to resolve the problem.
Mr O'Rourke had recommended that the priority work, to an approved design, start on September 6 and be completed by December 17 this year. If not commenced on time, the council would impose a 30 tonne load limit on the haul route until the upgrade was finished. Further, it must have a 10-year pavement life and the council will supervise the work.
The council would also inform the State planning department that Multiquip's modification to its approval, increasing quarry output, could not proceed until the former was satisfied Jerrara Road would be serviceable long-term.
Mr Wall threatened that if the council imposed a 30 tonne limit, the company would have "no alternative" than to mount legal proceedings over damage to the business.
Councillors, including Margaret O'Neill, wanted to defer the matter for talks.
"I'm concerned about a court case," she said.
Mr O'Rourke said it was the last thing he wanted as well but the pace of work was the major concern.
"You can kick it down the road...but this is a road safety issue," he replied.
Councillors instead adopted his recommendation but gave Multiquip until September 27 to start the repairs in order to secure contractors. The company will repay the $1.78m over five years, via additional section 94 payments. General manager Warwick Bennett has been authorised to finalise a funding agreement and negotiate a repair method.
After the meeting, Multiquip managing director Steve Mikosic said the company would work with the council on "the best resolution." Mr Mikosic in part blamed springs under the road and heavy rainfall for its rapid deterioration.
"I can't keep paying for a road that others use as well, but we're willing to work with the council to make it safe for everyone...It is a public road," he said.
"...We expect the council to fix some of the problem using section 94 funds but nothing has been done in the past 18 months. That's why the road is the way it is. We're looking to correct what we can but we can't overlay the whole road."
Mr Mikosic said he "wasn't unhappy" with the funding arrangement and would commission the repairs by September 27.
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