Direct access between Berri and Loxton set to close as Murray River rises – ABC News

Direct access between Berri and Loxton set to close as Murray River rises
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A major road connecting two Riverland towns could be closed by this weekend as flows along the Murray River continue to increase.
The Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) has announced parts of Bookpurnong Road between the Berri Bridge and Bookpurnong Hill will be closed as it becomes inundated by the rising river and surrounding wetlands.
The timing of the closure will depend on how fast the river rises.
Bookpurnong Road connects the major towns of Loxton and Berri.
Commuters will able to detour via Stanitzki Road and the Sturt Highway, via Paringa, which will add an extra 30 minutes to the trip.
DIT director of road maintenance Mick Lorenz said the road would be kept open for as long as possible.
"At this stage we're just going to have to watch the river as it rises," he said.
"We've been doing a lot of work with the Department for Environment and Water, and our own internal drainage people, to see if we can get some improved modelling.
"But it's a difficult science because of multiple rivers coming together and the shape of the peak is hard to predict, so all we can say is it's likely to be soon."
Flows along the Murray River into South Australia are predicted to peak at 165 gigalitres per day in early-December and forecasting shows a moderate chance of flows reaching 200GL per day.
Stanitzki Road, which connects Bookpurnong Road to the Sturt Highway near Paringa, is set to see higher than normal traffic levels due to the detour.
Loxton Waikerie Council chief executive David Beaton said it was necessary to use Stanitzki Road, but its condition was poor.
"It's one of those ones we've been looking to get widened and I think it's on [DIT's] program, so hopefully this will kick it up a bit more, because it will start to break down on the sides with heavy traffic on it," he said.
"You''ll have big trucks coming towards each other and even SUVs heading towards trucks … you don't want to meet them too close and head on.
"It's going to be a big harvest, so we've got the problems of the dislocation of traffic because of the closure of [Berri] bridge, but also a potential doubling of the harvest traffic because of the size of the harvest."
Mr Lorenz said DIT workers were inspecting Stanitzki Road to check areas of concern along the road.
As the river continues to rise, DIT crews will be in the region to assess low-lying roads and the department will compile an online list of closures and expected closures.
The Riverland's ferries are running, but service closures are expected in the coming weeks.
The Waikerie crossing expected to be the first to close, probably within the next week when the river reaches 9.2 metres.
Work is underway to prepare the Waikerie high-flow ramp so the ferry can operate once the river reaches 9.6m.
The crossing is expected to be inoperable for two to three days.
Ferry services at Morgan, Lyrup, Mannum and Walker Flat are considered to be at highest risk of closure.
"The predictions at the moment are the Morgan and Lyrup ferries will be inoperable at 120GL per day," Mr Lorenz said.
"As we know, the predictions at the moment are for in excess of 120GL, so they are at risk."
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