LAKE Macquarie MP Greg Piper appears to have brokered a short-term solution to the vexing question of who should fix Reserve Road at Wangi Wangi.
The Lakes Mail understands that Lake Macquarie City Council will agree to repair the treacherous stretch of gravel road – dubbed ‘Pothole Parade’ by locals – under a fee-for-service arrangement with National Parks and Wildlife Service.
The road was originally a council asset, before it was transferred to Lake Macquarie Conservation Area to be managed by NPWS.
That means the council has no obligation to maintain the road, but NPWS has no responsibility to maintain the road as a “main thoroughfare”.
As the impasse dragged on, the pot-holes grew bigger with each rain event, and with each passing vehicle.
Mr Piper said the stand-off had prevailed for too long, and “the Wangi community really doesn’t care who owns the road, they just want it fixed and made safe”.
Responding to recent letters on the matter from Mr Piper, Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton acknowledged there was a problem that needed fixing.
“I understand that the road has deteriorated over the years,” she said, “I appreciate that it is important to Wangi Wangi residents who use it for quick and convenient access.
“Given this, I have asked NPWS to contact council and see if a collaborative approach to repairing the road can be found.
“I have also asked NPWS to investigate with council how a longer term solution should be reached, such as an ongoing maintenance plan or revocation of the land to council.”
In August, the Lakes Mail reported that Hunter Valley Buses, which has about 70 bus movements along the section of road every week – including school buses – was considering abandoning the route because of the danger posed by the road to its passengers, drivers and vehicles.
Other locals have already arrived at that decision. They have opted not to subject their family cars to the trauma of the pot-hole-ravaged road and preferred, instead, to “take the long way around” when accessing either side of the Wangi Wangi peninsula.
Visitors who drive to Wangi Wangi to access the conservation area often fall victim to the pot-holes as the mottled shadows cast by the gum trees make the hazards difficult to detect. That danger is magnified for motorists at night.
The Lakes Mail has visited the site and witnessed several vehicles unwittingly plunge into the pot-holes at speeds that suggested the drivers were unaware of the danger.
A spokesperson for council said: “Council and NPWS are currently reviewing options for the ongoing maintenance of Reserve Road at Wangi Wangi and a final decision has not yet been made. In the meantime, we are working closely with NPWS to undertake repairs in the short term.”