Six-year wait for roadwork nears its end

ROAD WARRIORS: Catherine Cornish, Andrew Cornish, Libby Cornish, and Michelle Pearson are fighting for Blackberry Lane. Picture: Lachlan Bence.
ROAD WARRIORS: Catherine Cornish, Andrew Cornish, Libby Cornish, and Michelle Pearson are fighting for Blackberry Lane. Picture: Lachlan Bence.

Residents who have waited six years for a promised road upgrade want Mount Buninyong’s Blackberry Lane fixed before the looming fire season.

A section of the lane has been inaccessible to most cars since 2011, when homeowners fought to stop Ballarat City Council closing the road.

On that occasion metal barriers were erected to restrict access to a 285-metre section between Granny White Lane and Mount Buninyong Road.

Council backed down and removed the barriers, however wooden barriers reappeared in the same location in May this year, which residents also fought to have removed.

Blackberry Lane resident Carmel West said regrading the road was long overdue for the people living on Mount Buninyong.

“Council made provisions to have it graded six years ago and nothing has ever been done,” she said.

“At the moment it is not just usable for emergency vehicles, and we certainly couldn’t use it as an escape if there was a fire up here.

“We want it fixed and we want it finalised.”

Council staff have been preparing a report on possible options for fixing the road.

It will be presented at the next ordinary meeting on October 25 for consideration.

There was acrimonious debate between residents who wanted the road shut, and those advocating to keep it open, when council voted on the issue in 2011.

Opponents of the road being open were unhappy about dirt bikes and cars hooning along the section between Granny White Lane and Mount Buninyong Road.

They said the lives of bushwalkers who used the road were being put in danger.

South Ward councillor Ben Taylor said residents should not get a false sense of security, even if the road is regraded for use.

“We need to clarify with the CFA what their position is as well, because we don’t want to create an expectation that during a fire this is the best exist to take,” he said.

“We want residents to have a fire plan, communicate with the CFA, be organised and really look at if they are going to stay or go during a fire.

“Residents should be careful of a false sense of security.”

There were 23 residents who live south of the 285-metre section that residents want graded.