The next time you think that you can't make a difference...
I have to salute some un-named and unknown bureaucrats in Wollondilly. Without any fanfare and without letting on exactly what they were up to, they pulled off something absolutely incredible.
Here's the story...
About a year and a half ago, a motion was filed in some unknown government office. There are two rest stops along a quiet stretch of highway, one on each side of the road. There isn't much of an on-ramp for getting back onto the highway from these rest stops, maybe 100m. That's pretty short to get from 0 to 100 and a lot of truckers use these rest areas. So it's a safety issue. The obvious solution is to provide an on-ramp of about 1km each direction. Since it's a federal safety issue affecting interstate commerce, the government should pay for and perform the upgrade.
As a side effect of widening the road in this spot, the drainage probably needs to be reconfigured. We certainly wouldn't want any roads to get washed out because adequate drainage wasn't planned.
I'm assuming they brought in local experts who knew the terrain to consult on this phase, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Anyway the work was completed a couple of months ago. It's a very beautiful stretch of road wandering through the Sydney catchment area. It's all pretty rugged and natural. Then you get to the site of the road work and think, wait a minute - what's going on here? Your first clue that something out of the ordinary happened is that besides the drainage, the roadway was lined with chain link fences. Then you look at the new drain pipe going underneath the road. It's 3 meters square. Not anything like the 50cm round tube it replaced.
If you didn't know the bigger picture it would be easy to dismiss it as over-engineering. But if you know the bigger picture, you are compelled to salute those who made it happen. This stretch of road lies between the northern and southern halves of the Sydney Catchment, bisecting it. 1km to the south is the Nepean gorge which flows under the Hume Motorway. The Hume Motorway separates the eastern catchment from the Blue Mountains Heritage Area.
Now let's put this all together. The work at the rest stop is smack dab in the middle of kaola habitat. In fact the highway symbolically if not in fact traps the last healthy koalas in the world from reaching safety if their habitat is destroyed. This actually happened last year. Builders started building on the wildlife corridor. Then a bushfire ripped through the northern catchment and destroyed thousands of hectares of kaola refuge.
What these unknown planners did was to create a wildlife corridor for the koalas which lets them escape the encroachment of Sydney on their current habitat and the destruction of the surrounding forest and give them an easy path both to the south AND to the west - where there are millions of hectares of protected land. The fences funnel them towards the underground tunnel.
And they got the federal government to both pay for it and build it all in the name of improving an on-ramp for truckers. All they did was insist on local consultants to make sure drainage was adequate, and by the way, a chain link fence might keep tourists and bushwalkers from wandering into some of the deep ravines in these parts and possibly save some federal money rescuing them.
Bloody brilliant. Cheers.