Residents oppose closure of Steep Hill Road, Rockleigh and Old Murray Road, Callington

The proposed closure of two roads in the Rockleigh area has caused an impasse between council staff and residents, both of whom say the risks are too great.

Concerned: Penny Heighes is one of the Rockleigh residents who opposes the closure of two roads in the district. Photo: File.

Concerned: Penny Heighes is one of the Rockleigh residents who opposes the closure of two roads in the district. Photo: File.

Steep Hill Road and Old Murray Road have been so worn by erosion that they are difficult to negotiate with most vehicles, including the graders and dump trucks the Murray Bridge council would ordinarily use to maintain them.

The council proposed in December that both roads be closed.

As city assets manager Malcolm Downie said in a follow-up report to councillors this month, they were unsafe for general use by the public; and alternative routes were available, including Bondleigh Road, which is due to be sealed in the next year.

"Maintaining the two roads in their current form is not an option," he said.

"The cost to upgrade these roads to make them safe for road users is not justified."

But most of the 18 local residents who responded to the council's proposal wanted to keep the roads open.

Many said they could be needed in case of medical emergency or fire, and that they were used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

In response, the council suggested it erect gates at each end of the roads and treat them as fire tracks.

Local Country Fire Service brigades, farm fire units, SA Ambulance and residents who used the roads for recreation would still be able to access them.

The Callington CFS offered its support to that idea.

Cr Theo Weinmann said the people had spoken and councillors should listen.

"Country people are losing all the time, and they're going to lose again if we pass this motion," he said.

"The people round there have spoken – they want it open.

"I think we should listen to what they say."

But Cr Airlie Keen said the funding required to bring the two roads up to scratch could just as well be spent at Mypolonga, Wellington or Sunnyside.

"We have a responsibility to get the best result for the broadest benefit," she said.

"Many roads need our investment."

She suggested a commitment from the council to upgrading a ford on nearby Wirilda Road would be enough to secure her vote.

Councillors were unwilling to make a final decision without seeing the roads for themselves, which they pledged to do in the near future.

Council CEO Michael Sedgman reminded councillors of the "not insignificant" safety issues involved, and reminded councillors they would need to pay to repair the roads if they decided to keep them open.

"A poorly maintained road will only further deteriorate unless we can engage an external contractor willing to do the work, because we can't force our staff to undertake unsafe work practices," he said.

Note: An earlier version of this story suggested Cr Keen had said the funding would be “better spent” elsewhere. She merely raised the point that many communities needed road funding.


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