Hidden truck agenda
IF MAIN Roads WA recognised the environmental importance of Toodyay Road, why would it choose to put a 90m-wide, 11m-deep cut for several kilometres through beautiful Wandoo and Powderbark woodland around the Sandplain and Salt Valley Road intersections for an overtaking lane that could go elsewhere?
This part of Toodyay Road is too steep for heavy trucks, so Main Roads wants to lessen the gradient to enable trucking operators to cut 11 minutes off the journey and save millions of dollars.
From the start, the Toodyay Road upgrade was always sold by Main Roads as being about road safety.
But the more we find out about what is going on, the more it is about helping the trucking industry and the less about safety.Read more
How many people think this outcome is worth what we are going to lose?
Road crash statistics have improved hugely since 2015.
If Main Roads was truly considering safety, the designs they might choose today would be different.
There are many proven, cost-effective road treatments such as rumble strips and sealed hard shoulders to reduce accidents.
Main Roads established a Toodyay Road Community Reference Group (CRG) in 2017 as a box-ticking exercise to rubber stamp its proposals, not to address environmental concerns.
Most CRG members do not represent environmental perspectives.
Those that do are me (representing Toodyay Friends of the River), Eddie Wajon (WA Wildflower Society) and Greg Warburton (Toodyay Naturalists’ Club) who unfortunately resigned at the last meeting.
Despite what a Main Roads spokesperson said in The Herald last month,a regional manager has told us they will not change the design to refine or improve it.
CRG members have no influence – all we can do is offer input on peripheral issues.
We at Safe and Scenic Toodyay Road want to stop the clearing of almost 14ha of vegetation around Salt Valley and Sandplain Roads.
The two intersections definitely need upgrading but because Main Roads is focussed on the $45 million section, it is unlikely they will be made safe for a long time.
Main Roads says it is optimising road design to reduce clearing but the footprint submitted for their permit is massive.
If you manage to clear 11 per cent less then, wow, doesn’t that sound great?
The offset of purchasing Wandoo woodland next to Clackline Reserve to compensate for the 54.87ha Main Roads is going to clear does not give us any net gain for the environment – this land would never have been able to be cleared anyway.
Birdlife Australia has told us that artificial nesting hollows are never as good as natural sites.
Artificial nesting boxes will never replace the 188 natural hollows removed as part of clearing at Salt Valley and Sandplain Roads.
Seed collection and revegetation is great but 70-80 per cent of plant species do not produce viable seed or seed that will grow in nurseries.
Many plants grow in complex symbiotic relationships that, in many cases, are poorly understood and cannot be relocated.
We will lose some amazing plants, including some orchid populations.
A revegetation plan to contribute to ecological connectivity will not be bio-diverse for the above reasons.
Former farmland subjected to years of artificial fertiliser, fungicide and pesticides will lack the soil organisms needed to grow native plants.
Toodyay Road users are seeing Xanthorrhoea (grass trees) transplanted near Jingaling Brook Road slowly dying.
This is one of Main Roads’ attempts to look as though it is doing the right thing.
Come and inspect large-scale Main Roads’ maps in the Toodyay Memorial Hall foyer to see what is planned.
The display is open weekdays 10am-2pm until the end of this month, and 10am-noon on weekends.
If you feel it is important, sign our petition to the WA Legislative Council (in State Parliament), visit our website sastr.com.au and like us on Facebook.