Proposed second access road to Gnarabup-Prevelly going nowhere

by Pelican Press
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Proposed second access road to Gnarabup-Prevelly going nowhere

A future plan to carve a second access road through bushland to Prevelly and Gnarabup appears to be doomed.

The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River gave its support to a preferred access route in 2017, but progress on the route depended on State Government funding.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti declined to comment on the State Government’s commitment to the project, referring enquiries back to Main Roads WA.

Meanwhile, a Main Roads spokesperson confirmed the agency had not received any funding for the project or for the next stages in its unrelated redevelopment plan for Caves Road between Augusta and Yallingup.

While a spokesperson for the agency told the Times studies were undertaken to determine the most appropriate route for Gnarabup as well as neighbouring Gracetown, “there has been no further progress on the development of a second access road since this time”.

A second road to Gracetown was nixed quite early in the process due to perceived huge environmental consequences for land mostly managed by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

Shire asset services manager David Nicholson said any road project hinged on State Government investment.

“Secondary access roads into Gnarabup and Gracetown were comprehensively assessed in 2017 by the shire and MRWA,” he said.

“A preferred alignment for a secondary access road into Gnarabup was supported by council in 2017, but no decision has been made by the State to fund construction.”

The Shire-endorsed choice would extend Rainbow Cave Road east as the best alternative route option connecting to Wallcliffe Road because it was the shortest route and avoided difficult terrain.

Lack of a second escape route from the coastal hamlet saw the Department of Fire and Emergency Services oppose plans for a multi-million-dollar resort in planning by developer Luke Saraceni, with protest group Preserve Gnarabup citing the same concerns.

Margaret River Coastal Residents Association president Adrian Wilson did not believe a second road would mitigate bushfire risks and was against disturbing the national park.

“In the most severe fire conditions, the second access road in its proposed location, just south of Gnarabup, would be in the path of a rapidly moving fire,” he said.

“This road could be engulfed in smoke, and according to some firefighters I have spoken to, be closed shortly after Wallcliffe Road.”

Mr Wilson also said a second route would bring more traffic congestion to the coast.

During public consultation, residents voiced concerns any scenic shortcut could also become a “race track”.

Main Roads said planning work continued on its Caves Road upgrade, including sealing road shoulders and improving drainage.

Funding was allocated for preparatory work to be undertaken during 2024-25, including removal of some roadside vegetation “deemed a high-profile risk”.

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