15 December 2022

NRMA calls for 'urgent' action as council road funding backlogs are revealed

| Claire Fenwicke
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Wet weather and potholes have been causing major problems across the region. Photo: Kim Treasure.

The NRMA has revealed there’s a $1.5 billion road funding backlog for the state in 2020-21, with the Riverina in the top-five areas in desperate need of money.

The Fix Our Broken Roads report outlined that while state and federal funding has increased in recent times, a “significant shortfall” still exists to bring the state’s road network up to scratch to support passenger and freight safety, as well as productivity.

And the unprecedented wave of wet weather in the past three years hasn’t helped matters.

The NRMA has warned the backlog figure will blow out even further as councils begin to report the extensive damage caused by heavy flooding over the past 12 months, and “urgent” funding was needed now.

“The NRMA has an almighty job on its hands over the next year fighting to get the funding councils need to fix our flood-ravaged, pothole-littered road network,” spokesperson Peter Khoury said.

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The top-five road infrastructure backlog areas in regional NSW for 2020-21 are the Northern Rivers, Riverina, Hunter, Mid North Coast and Central West, with a combined total of $990.9 million – that’s 64.6 per cent of the total regional backlog and 52 per cent of the total NSW backlog.

The highest yearly percentage increases in funding backlog in 2020-21 occurred in the Capital Country (36.1 per cent) and Murray (42 per cent) regions.

Looking at areas across southern NSW, the infrastructure backlog amounts for 2020-21 are estimated by the NRMA report as:

  • Murray = $60.3m
  • Riverina = $225.2m
  • South Coast = $112.3m
  • Capital Country = $47.4m
  • Snowy Mountains = $5.3m

Narrowing down the regions further, Wagga Wagga Council itself has the highest road infrastructure backlog overall, of $180.4m.

For the South Coast area, the Eurobodalla Shire Council has the highest backlog at $48.3m, followed by the Shoalhaven with $47.3m and Bega Valley with $16.7m.

The Upper Lachlan Shire carried the heaviest burden for the Capital Country area with a $26m backlog, followed by Goulburn Mulwaree with $8.6m.

The Snowy Mountains came in with some of the lowest backlog, according to the NRMA, with the Snowy Monaro Regional Council showing a backlog of $4.2m (down from $29.2m for 2019-20) and a $1m backlog for Snowy Valleys.

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In light of our damaged roads, the NRMA has launched its Rate Your Road survey to find out exactly where funding needs to be targeted.

“Having your say in our Rate Your Road survey can make a huge difference – the 2019 survey received a record number of votes and that data helped the NRMA secure record road funding from the NSW and Australian governments to support local councils,” Mr Khoury said.

The Fix Our Broken Roads report has called for more funding to support councils through a streamlined process, the adoption of new standards and materials when fixing roads to ensure they are more resilient to damage, and a technology-driven audit of the entire NSW road network to support targeted future upgrades and evidence-based, predictive maintenance.

“A long-term strategy and effective funding plan for the NSW road network, one of the state’s most valuable and productive assets, will increase safety, improve connectivity, and support future passenger and freight growth,” the report stated.

“Recognising that over 90 per cent of interstate freight movement occurs by road, there is a need to ensure that infrastructure can continue to provide support for industry.”

The Rate Your Road survey will be open until mid-February 2023, with the results to be released before the March 2023 NSW election.

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