By Bonny Burrows
Carers of a teenager with a disability were unable to access her family’s Officer property after the road was closed without notice.
The Masset family say this was the last straw in a string of problems they’ve had since works began on a nearby housing estate six months ago.
Michelle Masset, who rents the home with her husband and three daughters, said the road’s gravel surface had greatly deteriorated since construction began on the development, due to increased heavy vehicle traffic.
“The road’s getting really bad, ever since the developers came along,” Ms Masset said.
“There are potholes, there are trucks flying up and down the road constantly, and they’re throwing dirt all over our road. In the rain, it turns to mud.”
“It used to be really well maintained for a gravel road, and now it’s a mess.”
It’s become so bad that the family has avoided unnecessary trips along the road, and on one occasion chose to stay at Ms Masset’s mother’s place instead of returning home.
Daughter Khloe said she used to walk down the road to the local shops, but was now too scared.
“It is way too dangerous with the trucks going past,” Khloe said.
She said the road had also impacted her driver training.
“I’m on my learners (license) and I had driving down there, it’s too slippery,” Khloe said.
“It makes it hard to learn.”
Nineteen-year-old Chante, who has a disability and is unable to walk and care for herself, is assisted by carers on a daily basis.
Ms Masset said many had quit due to the road’s condition.
“Carers don’t want to drive, it is too dangerous,” she said.
She said the family had “put up” with the inconvenience until Friday 1 September, when the road was closed without notification.
Chante was to be visited by her carers, but they didn’t show up.
“My daughter’s carers couldn’t come in. Because we didn’t know the road was closed, we couldn’t tell the carers to go the other way. So they got to the closed road and went home,” Ms Masset said.
“If there was something in my letter to tell me, or if I had been notified I would have organised the carers to go a different way.”
As a result of the unexpected closure, Ms Masset and her teenage daughter Khloe had to step in to assist Chante, adding unnecessary strain on the family.
“It’s hard to shower her; I had to cancel the physio in Footscray. It had a big, hard impact on everyone here,” Ms Masset said.
Cardinia Shire Council’s acting manager of infrastructure services Cathal O’Loughlin said the council had been proactive in having the developer Satterly Property Group’s contractor, Coffey maintain Officer South Road on demand.
“We have arranged with the contractor working for Satterley to grade Officer South Road on a weekly basis, or as required. With recent inspections, we have increased the frequency of grading,” Mr O’Loughlin said.
He said 1 September’s road closure was unauthorised.
“Unbeknown to council, the road was illegally closed by the contractors undertaking pavement testing. We did not approve this road closure,” Mr O’Loughlin said.
A spokesperson for the housing estate’s developer, Satterley Property Group said the road closure followed protocol, with a traffic management plan approved by the council prior to the closure for geotechnical investigative works.
“The traffic management company that was engaged by Coffey, made the decision on the day to close a small section of Officer South Road. They did this because the area was deemed unsafe whilst the works were undertaken,” the spokesperson said.
“There were no residents in the vicinity of the road closure and access to Officer South Road south of the Princess Freeway was maintained via Lecky Road.”
According to Satterley, the road was reopened immediately after a request from a representative from the council.
The firm maintained safety and welfare of people working onsite, and the broader community is critical when building works were underway.
“As a community-minded developer, Satterley is committed to local governance procedures, and we expect the same high standards from the external consultants we engage,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said as part of the development, Satterley had an obligation to upgrade the western carriage way of Officer Secondary Road between Flannigan Avenue and Rix Road only.
“Depending on the approval process, likely timing for this project is mid to late next year,” the spokesperson said.