DOUGLAS Shire Mayor Julia Leu has questioned why a feasibility study into sealing the Bloomfield Track was completed without input from the local government that owns the road.
A key finding in the report, which was completed without consultation with Douglas Shire Council, suggests that Council could save $700,000 per year on maintenance costs if it handed over its section of the unsealed Bloomfield Track.
Council spends about $130,000 per year on maintaining the track.
“What’s most disappointing is our neighbouring councils felt the need to ambush us, rather than consult with us to get the facts right about our road,” she said.
“Regardless of the politics involved, if Cook Shire and Wujal Wujal were serious about getting this project completed, surely they would have wanted accurate data.
“The figure used for potential maintenance costs savings is a perfect example – the $700,000 figure was supplied by another council and is grossly inaccurate.
“We are in the truly bizarre situation where an economic analysis was completed about our own infrastructure in our own backyard, and no one thought to pick up the phone or drop into our office.”
The report says sealing the Bloomfield Track would cost about $119 million.
It also refers to run off and dust impacts that the report author himself admits are not supported by any scientific evidence, but rather anecdotal observations and estimates.
“Inquiries of Wet Tropics Management Authority and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority revealed no definitive research that quantifies unsealed road impacts on the environment and benefits of sealing in relation to this or other comparable sections of road,” the report said.
It also ignores the significant the potential environmental impacts that sealing the road would on to World Heritage Wet Tropics rainforest and ongoing financial impact to Douglas Shire Council ratepayers’ hip pockets.
Sealing the road would require realignment, total reconstruction and substantial earthworks that end the popular 4WD experience and destroy many hectares of the Wet Tropics rainforest.
“These initial estimates prove the project is a really expensive task that would also require additional infrastructure upgrades in the area between the southern bank of the Daintree River and Cape Tribulation to cater for increased traffic flow,” Mayor Leu said.
“Council is concerned that maintaining this infrastructure would impose a significant financial burden on Douglas Shire ratepayers and be the nail in the coffin of the Daintree wilderness experience.”