Browns Gap Road – Community Update
Browns Gap Road has been closed to all traffic since July 2022, due to immediate concerns of geotechnical instability (rockslide and embankment failure). This instability arose from the extended period of rainfall experienced over the course of 2021-2022. These intense storms also resulted in mine subsidence both underneath and adjacent to Browns Gap Road.
Since mid-2022, Lithgow City Council has been advocating for the urgent repair of mine subsidence next to Browns Gap Road. Repair of this mine subsidence was necessary prior to the investigation of geotechnical instability adjacent to the road, both upslope and downslope. With Subsidence NSW calling for tender related to the mine subsidence in late 2022, a works program was approved in May 2023 which then commenced in June 2023. This work is now complete, but more work is required before the road can be reopened to traffic.
Work is progressing on the reopening of Brown’s Gap Road. Council understands that the community is concerned about the time it is taking to reopen Brown’s Gap Road, which was originally closed in mid-2022. This subsidence caused distortion in the road surface which suggested the road was at risk of collapse. There was also the risk of rocks above the road being released and hitting vehicles.
With the mine subsidence repaired, Council’s consultants have been cleared to undertake more detailed inspections and site analysis. This has now occurred.
It was Council’s intention to be able to re-open the road as a single lane in August, however, following this geotechnical assessment, it is now apparent that further works are required to safely reopen Brown’s Gap Road. Two claims for funding to undertake the works are being prepared for submission by Council under the NSW Governments Disaster Recovery Fund, as follows:
- An initial claim for $1 million for further geotechnical investigation and monitoring, scaling of the rockface and repainting of the road for one way use is currently being prepared. On 9 November WSP undertook a further geotechnical assessment of the slope to progress this claim. This is an interim package of work which aims to reopen the road to a single lane of traffic.
- A subsequent claim for $5 million which seeks approval for a more comprehensive package of work. Ultimately, this package will result in the reinstatement of Browns Gap Road to its pre-disaster function.
On 1 July, changes to the assessment requirements for Disaster Recovery Funding occurred which requires that physical work cannot commence until approval is received from the NSW State Government. This application process is challenging, requiring that every dollar requested of Government is substantiated by evidence of disaster impact and a detailed project scope.
One of the key challenges is to ensure that the road is safe for the heavy equipment required to enable the removal of sections of rock from up-slope. The recent report from WSP not only identifies future repairs and requirements for slope monitoring of Browns Gap Road, but also confirms the suitability of the road for the heavy equipment required to undertake the necessary scaling works to remove loose rocks and reduce the risk of rock falls to motorists and ongoing damage to the road.
Lithgow City Council understands the frustration of motorists who normally would use Browns Gap Road. It took a long time for the collapsed mine workings to be repaired and yet the road still hasn’t opened. We made a guarantee to re-open with single lane access in August and it didn’t happen. The delays, while we await funding approval are not only frustrating for motorists, but Council also.
Moving forward, project updates will be provided on a weekly basis using the table below. Please call Council on 02 6354 9999 for further information.
|05/12/2023||Council followed up with Transport for NSW as to the status of the application. While the approval was to be received last week, this did not occur. Council continues to press for the results of Transport’s assessment.|
|27/11/2023||The submission to Transport for NSW for the Browns Gap Road project was made Friday 24 November. Follow-up with Transport for NSW was immediately made, seeking their urgent response to this request for funding approval. Receipt of the application was received today (27/11/23) with written confirmation that feedback will be provided within the week. Local quotes have also been sought. Early indications of contractor availability suggest that works may be able to commence mid-January, pending approval by Transport for NSW.|
|20/11/2023||Staff meeting with potential local contractor scheduled today to estimate the cost of scaling. Estimates at this time are approximately $500,000, excl. contingency. Final quote to be received today (20/11/23). Final quotes received from Council’s consulting engineers (WSP) detailing site supervision and management costs. Submission of work package (approx. $1.5 million) to Transport for NSW for their consideration and approval by end of week.|
Since the closure of Brown’s Gap Road, the following works have been undertaken:
Over the past two weeks, Council has engaged the services of a dedicated Project Manager to press forward on the Browns Gap Road project. This Project Manager and Council’s Disaster Recovery Coordinator are treating this application for funding as their highest priority. It is expected that this application for the initial phase of work will be submitted as quickly as possible, but no later than 24 November 2023.
Once submitted, Transport for NSW indicate that it can take between 4 – 6 weeks for an approval to be granted. Council will pursue every opportunity to reduce this timeframe. Once approval is granted, a procurement process will immediately commence to appoint a contractor to commence the installation of monitoring equipment, rock scaling and line marking realignment. As it is dependent on specialist contractor availability, a timeframe for this work will be provided as the procurement process concludes.