10 August 2023

Work starts to repair Otford causeway and reopen road before bushfire season

| Graeme Burrill
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The damaged Otford causeway.

Work has started to repair the damaged Otford causeway and reopen Otford Road. Photo: Wollongong City Council.

Otford residents have welcomed the start of work to repair the damaged Otford Road causeway six months after damaging floods forced its closure.

The flooding caused significant damage to the existing causeway structure and adjacent roadway and Wollongong City Council had no option but to demolish and replace it.

Council general manager Greg Doyle said it was a credit to staff that construction of the new causeway had been able to start within six months of the damage.

“[The damaged causeway] was visually very dramatic, but for the locals it was also a major concern as this was an important access road,” he said.

“I am very proud of the team for all their hard work behind the scenes to see us work through the design, consultation and the start of construction in just a six-month timeframe,” he said.

With Otford Road the most direct route between Otford and Helensburgh, locals have suffered six months of daily disruption but they are happy it will be reopened before the bushfire season.

“There’s only three exits out of Otford and that’s one of them, and it’s the only one in that direction,” one resident told Region.

“It just makes things a lot more difficult, especially for families coming from Helensburgh to drive an extra 10 minutes.

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“For us at the moment, if I’m going out, I’ll walk across the weir and get a friend to pick me up if they’re from Helensburgh as opposed to them driving all the way around.”

However, disruptions will continue during the roadworks, as the temporary pedestrian access across the causeway will be closed.

In 2020, council investigated if the causeway could be replaced with a bridge, however, it found a bridge would need to span about 90 metres to provide safe access in major flood events, and it would not be feasible at this location.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said there was not enough room to construct a bridge of this size and height at this location.

“The geology, topography and landscape at this location, as well as the impact on residents and private property, means that a bridge is just not an option that is on the table,” he said.

The new causeway has been designed to withstand major storm events. Other work will include improved line marking and better signage.

Construction is expected to take about four months to complete.

Take a look at this council video about the damage to the causeway.

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