Protesters mount Gerroa Road tree vigil

THE community campaign to save the Bum Tree and other trees along Gerroa Road has advanced.

Today a roadside vigil began at the intersection of Beach and Gerroa roads to protest against the removal of trees deemed too close to the road.

Members of the Gerroa Environmental Protection Society (GEPS) will unfurl two large banners at the intersection of Beach and Crooked River roads as part of their protest.

The banners will feature images of glider possums.

The plight of the greater glider and the threat to its habitat is a key issue for members of the society.

GEPS members intend to keep the vigil going at the site for as long as possible to highlight the demise of the gliders’ habitat. 

They hope to convince Shoalhaven City Council to request the speed limit along Gerroa Road be dropped from 100 to 80km/h.

They believe it was an option council had not explored.

The group’s secretary Howard Jones said environmental matters they raised had not been investigated, nor had the option of reducing the speed limit.

“Council has never made a request to the RMS to reduce the speed limit on Gerroa/Crooked River roads,” Mr Jones said.

“It may well be that maintaining the current 100km/h speed limit and opening up the road verges might make the drive more dangerous.

“A wider more open road may encourage drivers to drive faster and, unlike other well used roads in the area, this one passes through a national park with a high density of wallabies grazing on the verges.

“Interestingly most of the roadkill has been on the area of road that was widened in 2004 and 2005 because the increased light had assisted the grasses the wallabies feed on along the verges.

“Hitting a wallaby can lead to a head-on collision or rolling the car and speed is the main factor here,” Mr Jones said.

Deputy mayor and chairman of Shoalhaven City Council’s Policy and Resources Committee John Wells said reducing the speed limit would have negative impacts on the Shoalhaven’s economy.

“As the Foxground to Berry upgrade gets under way, we anticipate more traffic going down the sand track [Gerroa Road].

“So we are going to be faced with an imbalance or change in that road’s use.”

He said it was not up to council to change speed limits, rather the Shoalhaven Traffic Committee.

“Recommendations on speed limits are made by the committee and while council hosts those meetings that committee is run by the RMS and the NSW Police,” Cr Wells said.

“They are always looking for optimum traffic flow on the roads they’ve got and this road is going to be growing in importance in the coming years.

“In regard to the Bum Tree, it reduces the line of sight by about 100 metres below the Australian standard when turning out of that intersection.

“It is a long, straight road and the accidents shouldn’t be happening but they are. 

“We have had weakening of the road shoulders which require widening and strengthening.

“This is an $820,000 project; the tree clearing is only about $62,000 of that. The surface and shoulders will be upgraded.”

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