Main Roads WA has issued an emphatic statement to clarify concerns over the supposed proposed widening of Caves Road.
The statement, issued on Monday, said that Main Roads had briefed the Shire of Augusta Margaret River, advising that no planning for improvements to Caves Road had commenced.
“Claims of clearing areas of vegetation from 5 to 15 metres [are] without foundation,” the statement read.
In a briefing with the Shire on Wednesday, Main Roads officers said the agency’s preference was to retain the existing aesthetics of Caves Road in recognition of its importance as a tourist route.
“Council was advised that the perception that project development was well advanced and that key decisions about likely treatments had been made was incorrect,” a spokesperson said.
“The true position was that Main Roads was about to start working on the strategy for Caves Road, with full community involvement.”
To that end, community reference groups will be formed by Main Roads to cover the 86 km section of Caves Road between Yallingup and Rainbow Cave Road.
The groups will be split into northern and southern representations, based around boundaries of the City of Busselton and the AMR Shire.
Main Roads said road safety was the driving factor behind any improvements.
“The key purpose of any work would be to provide a sealed shoulder to improve road user safety. The broad objective was always to keep any clearing impacts to an absolute minimum.
“Additionally, no work will be undertaken until the community reference groups have been consulted.”
Part of that consultation process will involve site visits to determine safety and environmental concerns.
Fears that works on Caves Road could deliver similar results to wider and more drastically cleared sections of Bussell Highway were unfounded, according to Main Roads.
A speed zone assessment would be undertaken in the coming months to address widespread community feedback over posted speed limits on the popular tourist drive.
The northern and southern Caves Road community reference groups, comprising residents, local government and representatives from tourism, wine, transport and environmental groups, will hold their first meetings in mid-September.