Culvert load limits may prevent heavy vehicle business
COUNCILLORS fear the prospect of a load limit being placed on the Allora-Clifton Rd could have major impacts on rural industry in the area, preventing heavy vehicles from accessing large businesses.
An engineering consultant, hired by the Southern Downs Regional Council, has declared a culvert on the road is in very poor condition.
A level-three inspection has been carried out on the culvert, which according to a council report, will "most likely" result in a load limit being placed on the road.
The revelation comes after an application for a B-double permit for Glenmar Fuels was rejected by the council in November.
An appeal lodged by the Allora-based fuel business has since been rejected by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.
The news has councillors concerned for rural industries in the area.
A number of businesses including a piggery, goat farm and Glenmar Fuels use the road for conduct business.
Allora-based Cr Glyn Rees said he was concerned about the impact a load limit would have on those businesses.
"Glenmar Fuels have half their business on one side, there's a range of industries and we must consider that," he said.
"This should be a priority - it's something that will need to be done."
Councillors raised the possibility of opening a side track for access while possible repairs on the culvert could be done.
Deputy Mayor Ross Bartley said he didn't believe a side track would cut it.
"We're really playing with people's livelihoods if we put a load limit on the road," he said.
The big question for councillors is whether the culvert will need repairing or replacing.
Director of Engineering Services Peter See said if the culverts were unsafe, it would be a waste of time repairing them.
He said the council would be better off replacing them - work which could prove costly.
"If a structural engineer says it needs a load limit, then it needs a load limit," he said.
"If it's unsafe, then it's unsafe."
Glenmar Fuels owner Glenn Hentschel is not convinced the culvert is unsafe.
He said he's refusing let the issue go and hasn't ruled out pursuing legal avenues.
"It's just ridiculous - all I wanted was a permit for an unloaded B-double," he said.
"I don't really think there's anything wrong with the culvert.
"I think they're (the council) just running for cover."
The Department of Main Roads and Transport have also had their say, stating the geometry of the intersection with Allora Dr did not comply with B-double standards and posed "unacceptable safety risks" to other drivers.
Mr Hentschel said if the further report found the culvert was unsafe, the council would have to act.
"If it's unsafe then of course they have to do something - they will have to fix it," he said.
"If it's not unsafe they have to give us permits."
As for the load limit, Mr Hentschel has concerns for a number of businesses in the area.
"What about the milk truck who comes up here to the goat farm?" he said.
"What will happen to him?"
Councillors will await the finding of the level-three report before making a decision on the culvert.
The reports have cost the council $6000.