The fight to keep Dunns Road open has been joined by 1500 signatories, with Uranquinty Progress Association taking a petition to council.
The group has also called on Riverina MP Michael McCormack to honour his $2.5 million election promise for an upgrade.
Jenny Lewington, who helped spearhead the petition, said there was overwhelming support for the road to remain in use.
“We have 1500 people who use it regularly,” Ms Lewington said. “It’s an important bypass… it’s no more dangerous than other roads in the area. We don’t want Mr McCormack to go back on his election promise and let council persuade him to spend the money elsewhere.”
Long considered a “rat run” and “death trap”, the road alternates between sealed and dirt surfaces between the Olympic Highway and Holbrook Road just south of Wagga. People often use the road as a shortcut, but it has also seen a number of crashes and near misses.
Wagga City Council staff recommended closing the dangerous stretch last year after a report found properly sealing the road would cost ratepayers more than $5 million in addition to the $2.5 million from the federal government. The reasons for the cost blowout included safety standards required by the Roads and Maritime Service, land acquisition and preservation of trees.
While councillors gave the road a reprieve, seeking costing from an independent consultant on upgrading the undulating five-kilometre road, mayor Greg Conkey questioned whether it could be justified.
“It’s certainly shorter, but we just spent $55 million on the Kapooka Bridge upgrade,” Councillor Conkey said. “We’ll take on board what people say, but there are other priorities as well.”
In a letter to council general manager Peter Thompson, Uranquinty Progress Association said the closure of Dunns Road would not only increase travel times for residents south of the city, but also put slow-moving farm equipment onto main roads.
Mayor Greg Conkey said he had personally driven down Dunns Road and back along the proposed alternative Red Hill Road route to find out if the time-saving claims were true.
“It took four-and-a-half minutes (on Dunns Road) and the other way it was the best part of 15 minutes,” Councillor Conkey said. “It is certainly much shorter, but I couldn’t get near the 80km/h speed limit without causing grief to the mayoral vehicle.”