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Cudlee Creek Harrogate Brukunga Bushfire - Wachtel Road Harrogate

Background/History

The history of this road is unknown to current staff however in the late 1990’s there was petitioning from the community to re-open the road to Harrogate Road and then further partitioning to keep it closed off.  Those wanting it to remain a No Through Road seem to have won that battle.  The road is presumed to have started life as an unmade road on the edge of town and as growth in the town has expanded, homes have been built and are now serviced by it.  Speculating - as an unmade road it may likely have had some cut through traffic which was likely not detrimental to anyone until homes were built and road safety concerns reasonably were raised.

Current Usage and Purpose/Function

Currently the road is a narrow unsealed, no through road providing access to 13 allotments for which current development shows it servicing 5 residences. The asset is categorised currently as a “Track Limited Access” however this will be changed to “Local Access” road given its current function to provide all weather access to developed land.

Capacity

We don’t routinely gather traffic count data on low volume residential roads and therefore we don’t have a current traffic volume count.  There appears to be no evidence of rat running past the log barrier at the eastern end and therefore, given it serves 5 homes presently, this would mean a confident prediction that the current traffic volume would be between 35 and 50 vehicles per day.  This is a very low volume and can quite easily be managed by a no- thru road with no adverse consequence to houses abutting it.

Future

Opening Wachtel Road to Harrogate Road is not being considered as it would likely create an adverse short cut between Harrogate and Mail Rd.  With that would come traffic speed and an undesirable increased risk of crashes along the road or at its junctions with Mail and Harrogate and also the sharp bend at the western end. The steep grade (8.3%) may also encourage a higher speed of short cutting traffic heading in an easterly direction.

Being a Local Access township road serving a potential 13 allotments, theoretically the ultimate development adjacent to the road may see up to 13 homes which would potentially equate to 130 vehicles per day (vpd).  This is unlikely as it is already evident that some home owners have constructed their homes across multiple allotments.  A more realistic traffic volume based on remaining undeveloped land, extent of trees etc would suggest in, say, 10 years time perhaps 3 – 4 more homes may be built lifting traffic volumes to approximately 80 – 90 vpd.  This is a still a relatively low traffic volume and it would not trigger any consideration of the need spread the traffic load and open up the east end of the road to Harrogate Rd.  A single junction at the Mail Road end would comfortably manage this predicted traffic volume.

With regard fire emergency access thru the eastern end, advice from Councils fire officer suggests that there is currently no critical issue with regard CFS access.  The time taken to drive around and entry at the western end for fire access or exit is very short and likely quicker than unlocking a chained gate if it were installed.

Forward Capital Investment

Being a Local Access road (by the function it provides) and also being located within the township servicing residential development, sealing the road is listed with a number of other unsealed Harrogate township roads inside the next 4 yr period.  As part of sealing the road we will consider improvements that achieve a safe level of service such as (but not limited to):

- the size and functionality of the turn-around bowl,

- the adequacy of the signage that alerts drivers to hazards such as the termination of road, the sharp bend and linemarkings needed to define the interface with Mail Road,

- the junction works at the Mail Road end.  (Currently there seems to be two adhoc junctions and the best would be picked for sight lines etc and enhanced sufficiently to achieve a safe standard, and

- vegetation trimming for sightlines.

For information, other roads in the Harrogate Township area identified to be sealed (subject to budget approvals for FY21/22) are:

·         Laurie

·         Reserve Lane

·         Church Rd

·         Schwab