Cowper leads push

Murray Cowper with Eric, Ros and Jacob Walmsley at the proposed roadhouse site.
Murray Cowper with Eric, Ros and Jacob Walmsley at the proposed roadhouse site.

Mr Cowper has called on Main Roads to rethink their opposition to more amenities on the highway.

He said the stretch of highway between Safety Bay and Lake Clifton had become arguably one of the busiest, most un-serviced long stretches of road in Australia, with rapidly increasing numbers of motorists denied fuel, food or toilet facilities.

‘Landowners along the route are being plagued with requests for emergency fuel, while desperate ‘nature calls’ are forcing motorists to use nearby side roads and stretches of bush,” he said.

‘There is only one toilet at the John Tognela rest area, just north of Lake Clifton. It is funded by taxpayers via Main Roads but should be a commercial roadhouse with full amenities.’

Mr Cowper said Main Roads was advising potential investors to be prepared to invest around $10 million on twin roadhouses on either side of the highway.

‘But traffic volumes need to increase from around the current 17,000 vehicles to at least 30,000 per day to justify that scale of investment and the policy must be amended to offer an interim solution to this rapidly mounting problem,” he said.

He said he was aware of a number of proposals from developers and landowners keen to provide services at strategic points. ‘The Walmsley family, whose farming properties straddle the highway, raised the prospect of a roadhouse at Herron Point, when they were negotiating resumption of their land for the highway at the planning stage,’ he said.

‘They indicated their readiness to invest at the point of a future crossover on Herron Point Road, to service motorists heading south, but also with access for northbound traffic.

‘MRD informed them of the twin roadhouse requirement, and that a proposal for a single facility would be rejected.

‘So now, as the roadside refuse increases, the Walmsleys and other farmers along the highway continue to provide emergency assistance to more and more motorists.’

Mr Cowper will take the issue to Transport Minister Troy Buswell and seek support from the Murray and Waroona shires.