An increasing number of roads being neglected, according to a new report.
An increasing number of roads being neglected, according to a new report. Allan Reinikka

North Coast councils report highest road work backlogs

COUNCILS on the North Coast are struggling to catch up with the costs of road works, meaning an increasing number of the roads are being neglected.

The North Coast region has the highest road infrastructure backlog in the state as well the biggest maintenance shortfall, according to a report released by the NRMA.

The backlog, estimated to be around $437.8-million, accounts for 26 per cent of the total backlog in NSW.

The maintenance shortfall sits at $16.6-million.

However Coffs Harbour was the exception, reportedly having no backlog at all from 2014-2017.

Bellingen recorded a backlog of $25-million, and the ratio of infrastructure deficit to road grant funding rose from one times to eight times in just two years.

The Clarence Valley has a backlog of $38-million.

"The unsatisfactory condition of road assets and reduced maintenance along with limited asset management highlights the alarming trend of councils struggling to deliver acceptable road conditions," the report reads.

"The structure of past and present grants and programs has also tended to show that geographically larger and less populated councils have, at times, been disadvantaged when attempting to attract investment in road infrastructure to maintain critical asset bases."

According to the report, around 33 per cent of fatalities took place on regional roads and 35.6 per cent on local roads between 2013-17.

The total infrastructure backlog across state stands at around $2.2-billion.

The NRMA has now launched a survey, Rate Your Road, which calls on the community to rate their local roads and public transport with the results to be collated over the coming weeks and released prior to the NSW State Election.

NRMA Group CEO Rohan Lund said the organisation was focused on making roads and public transport infrastructure funding an election priority.

"We have made significant inroads into improving the road network in recent years and seen record budgets from the NSW Government however it is clear that we still have work to do - that's why we've launched Rate Your Road," Mr Lund said.

The NRMA report has suggested a number of ways the Government can help local councils meet their shortfalls, including reserving between two to five cents per litre of the fuel excise, allocating up to $180-million per annum for five years from the Snowy Hydro Legacy and Regional Growth Funds, and re-categorising strategic roads across regional areas to State roads.

INFRASTRUCTURE BACKLOGS (as of 2017):

1. Mid Coast - $115.5-million

2. Port Macquarie Hastings - $80-million

3. Lismore - $71.3-million

4. Clarence Valley - $38-million

5. Kyogle - $32.9-million

6. Byron - $31.9-million

7. Bellingen - $25.1-million

8. Kempsey - $16.2-million

9. Richmond Valley - $9.5-million

10. Tweed - $8.8-million

11. Nambucca - $6.9-million

12. Ballina - $1.7-million

13. Coffs Harbour - $0



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