Steep Hill Road at Rockleigh, Old Murray Road at Callington to close

Closing soon: The proposed location of no through road signs and a gate on Steep Hill Road at Rockleigh. Image: Peri Strathearn/Google Maps.
Closing soon: The proposed location of no through road signs and a gate on Steep Hill Road at Rockleigh. Image: Peri Strathearn/Google Maps.

An outcry by residents has failed to stop the Murray Bridge council from closing two roads at Rockleigh and Callington.

The steepness of Steep Hill Road and Old Murray Road had led to constant erosion and made maintenance work dangerous to carry out.

In exchange, sections of Bondleigh Road and Dishers Hill Road will be sealed to give residents a better alternative route.

Councillors voted 5-3 in favour of the closures on Monday night.

Cr Tyson Matthews was one of the three dissenters.

"Regardless of the business case, the key stakeholders who hold an interest in (Steep Hill) road still are not swayed," he said.

"If we're going to do a consultation, and the consultation makes it clear residents want to keep the road open, I'm loathe to go against such a clear voice."

Cr Tod Cusack echoed the sentiment.

"We always say how we want to consult, yet when we get a clear message sent to us, we say that doesn't sit with what we do so we'll go against it," he said.

Cr Fred Toogood, who voted for the closures, said he was motivated by concerns for the safety of residents and council staff.

"Anybody who wants to drive up that road would be doing themselves a danger and also their vehicles," he said.

Residents including Penny Heighes had argued both roads needed to be kept open in case of medical emergency or bushfire.

In an email to councillors after the meeting, Ms Heighes said closure would affect the safety and lifestyle of dozens of residents, many of whom worked in Lobethal, Woodside or Oakbank and sent their children to schools in those towns.

"What was the point of this costly (consultation) exercise when council seemed to be doggedly proceeding with the closure anyway?" she asked.

"I am extremely disappointed and very disillusioned.

"We elected our councillors in the understanding that they were there to represent the residents and ratepayers.

"This process has ... highlighted why residents and ratepayers are reluctant to have input into council consultations."

She suggested things might be different if councillors were still elected to represent wards, rather than the whole Murray Bridge district.

However, she thanked Councillors Tyson Matthews, Tod Cusack and Clem Schubert for taking an interest.

They were the only three to vote against the closure, though Cr Jerry Wilson was absent.

Gates will now be built at each end of the two roads and keys given to local emergency services.

They will be treated like fire access tracks, graded occasionally when the weather permits, but without new material being added to build the surface back up.

Walkers, cyclists and horse riders will still be allowed to use the tracks.

It will likely be several months before the closure takes effect.

Bondleigh Road will be sealed between Bremer Valley Road and Range Road, and Dishers Hill Road between Bremer Valley Road and the water tanks, by the end of this financial year at a cost to ratepayers of $354,000.

The cost of making Steep Hill Road safe was estimated at $180,000.