It’s been described as a rat-run, a racetrack and a death trap, but for those who actually use Dunns Road, it’s an important time-saver.
The five-kilometre stretch of dirt and bitumen has been the subject of debate for many years, as residents locked horns with Wagga City Council to get the road sealed. But now that the residents have sided with council in an apparent attempt to have the road closed, another group have stepped forward to try and save the perilous stretch.
Uranquinty Progress Association president Deb Bewick said the Dunns Road upgrade had been an election promise of Riverina MP Michael McCormack and it should go ahead as planned.
“This has been brought up many times that they’d find money for the road, now they have and all of a sudden this backwater road may be closed,” Ms Bewick said.
“There’s pressure coming from somewhere, they’re railroading this to turn it into a private access road and block off a legitimate bypass.”
Prior to the 2016 federal election, Mr McCormack promised $2.5 million to help Wagga City Council make “significant safety improvements”. But more than a year later, council found the project would cost more than expected and asked whether those funds could be spent on other dangerous roads, such as the ones in the northern suburbs.
Councillors told staff to engage consultants to get a proper estimate for repairing Dunns Road, but residents decided enough was enough and if the road wouldn’t be upgraded, it should be closed.
Wagga builder Wayne Carter, who used Dunns Road whenever he worked around Uranquinty, said it saved him about 10 minutes each way and he wanted to see it fixed.
“There’s always some sort of government assistance on offer and we don’t ask for it, someone else will,” Mr Carter said. “The state government seems to be pretty cashed up and if people want to get around the southern end of Wagga, they would want this road.”
However, Ms Bewick was concerned council had already made a decision and was just going though the process now.
“Any road can attract dangerous drivers, but you don’t just then go and close the road,” she said.
“They don’t need to make Dunns Road a full highway-style bypass, just make it like any other country road that’s a little bit safer and off you go.”