FOUR rural roads, used as Upper Hunter coalmine shortcut routes, may be reclassified as regional roads, without community consultation.
Singleton Council decided this week to apply to the state government to reclassify Stanhope, Hermitage and Glendon roads, plus Glendon Lane.
Deputy mayor Paul Nichols told this week’s regular council meeting that rural residents did not want so much traffic on their narrow, winding roads and their opinion should be sought before a reclassification application was made.
There should be more policing of rural roads and the coalmine traffic should be put back on the highway, Cr Nichols said.
Residents on the four roads have complained about motor vehicle accidents, speeding, other extremely dangerous driving behaviour and traffic noise.
Almost 100 people had signed a petition expressing concern and calling for lower speed limits and more policing on Stanhope Road and a similar number of people had signed a Glendon Road petition.
Mayor Sue Moore told the council meeting that rural roads were public, already well used by coalmine traffic and she didn’t believe it could be stopped.
Reclassification would provide access to Roads and Maritime Services department funding to line mark these back roads, Cr Moore said.
The Stanhope to Glendon shortcut may be disrupted while Bourkes Crossing Bridge, at Glendon, was replaced but after that traffic volumes were expected to increase further, Cr Moore said.
A report to the meeting by council works manager Mursaleen Shah said traffic on Glendon Road had increased 96 per cent, in the 12 years to last year, to an annual average of 1552 motor vehicles every day.
In the same period, the annual average traffic count on Hermitage Road had increased 64 per cent, to 1350 vehicles a day.
Mr Shah said the roads were local thoroughfares and not designed to function as regional roads.
The pavement design and width were not appropriate to handle the increased usage and there were numerous curves and concealed driveways.
The council had received many complaints about driver behaviour, police had been notified and patrols increased, he said.
Mr Shah said the council was unable to pay additional maintenance costs and as much of the increased traffic was coalmine related, extra roadwork costs should be paid by the state government.
Mr Shah said that as Cr Moore and councillors were meeting with Roads Minister Duncan Gay on June 26 this was an opportunity to raise the issue.
Regional classification meant the state government would pay 100 per cent of maintenance costs and 50 per cent of upgrade costs, whereas the council met all maintenance and upgrade costs for the roads at present.
Cr Moore said the June 26 meeting may only involve her and general manager Lindy Hyam, not councillors.
She was waiting to hear whether Mr Gay would include other councillors in the discussion.
Several councillors said all councillors should be afforded an opportunity to attend and other Singleton shire roads, such as Wallaby Scrub, Bridgman and Broke roads should be included among those of concern because of increased coalmine traffic.