Business owners support upgrade for Maria River Road | video, poll

Seal the road: Justin Hope operates Blackfish Cafes in Crescent Head and Port Macquarie. He supports the sealing of Maria River Road. Pic: Tom Bushnell
Seal the road: Justin Hope operates Blackfish Cafes in Crescent Head and Port Macquarie. He supports the sealing of Maria River Road. Pic: Tom Bushnell

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Do you agree that Maria River Road should be sealed? Take our poll at the bottom of the story.

It has cost businessman Justin Hope thousands of dollars in maintenance and repairs to his vehicle just to travel the dangerous Maria River Road.

Mr Hope operates Blackfish Cafe outlets in Crescent Head and Port Macquarie and he plans to make a submission supporting the sealing of the gravel road that links the two communities.

He travels the road at least four or five times a week and describes the road as ‘dangerous’ and ‘troublesome’.

Kempsey Shire Council and Port Macquarie-Hastings Council will jointly make submission for grant funding to seal the dangerous stretch of gravel road.

Director of infrastructure services with Kempsey council Robert Scott said the delivery program council adopted in June identified the need to prepare designs and plans for a joint project with Port Macquarie-Hastings Council to seal Maria River Road.

“This is part of council’s vision to support growth in the Macleay,” he said.

“We had identified the need to further investigate how this project could be funded and were the opportunity to obtain grant funding through working with Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and the government is ideal for both communities.

"This project is considered a regional priority as it would not only reduce the maintenance cost burden of the existing road, but improve safety for motorists and increase tourism opportunities between the two shires," Mr Scott said. 

Mr Hope said he has already spent thousands of dollars in repairs for his vehicle, had damaged one full set of tyres and damaged three other tyres and had a cracked windscreen and headlight from travelling the road.

“Where do I start to tell you how bad it is,” he said.

“That road is essentially ruining my car. And some of the ruts are that bad that your car will slide dangerously close to the sides.

“I saw a car upside down (in the ditch) because it had gone around a corner and it just toppled over. It’s just dangerous.”

He says if the road is sealed it would be fantastic and would provide a significant economic boost for both communities.

“I would create plenty of business at the Crescent Head end while providing a good road for tourists and day trippers to utilise more often.

“It should be a beautiful drive along there,” he said.

Mr Hope said he would be making a submission supporting sealing the road.

Northside Progress Association president Kingsley Searle said the Maria River Road community deserved getting the road sealed.

“It’s a shocking road,” he said.

The joint submission is under the Fixing Country Roads fund and applications are due September 1.

Mr Searle encouraged business and community to make submissions supporting the funding.

“Specifically those submissions need to highlight the costs to residents and businesses incurred because of the current road, what financial impacts the road has on the viability of their business and what expected increases – in economic terms – they envisage through better connections to their markets.”