$80m roads backlog for region

21-08-2018 by admin

ORANA region councils are facing a more than $80 million road infrastructure backlog, according to a National Roads and Motorists Association (NRMA) report.

The Funding Local Roads report, which has been released as part of the NRMA’s federal election platform, analysed the backlog of works reported by local councils in their 2014-25 annual reports.

The newly-amalgamated Dubbo and Wellington councils faced a combined backlog of almost $6.7 million in their 2014-15 financial assessments, while the stand-alone Narromine Shire Council had more than $5.1 million in local road maintenance work on its books.

Mid-Western Regional Council boasted the largest backlog, with more than $31 million on its books, followed by Cobar with a backlog of $17.5 million.

It’s a trend that is repeated across the state’s west, with the NRMA reporting 63 councils in western NSW have a combined backlog of almost $300 million in funding in order to get local roads up to standard.

The analysis of data reported by 63 Western NSW councils found that the great majority carried a seven figure road repair backlog.

Several were well into eight figures: Mid-West ($31.4m); Wentworth ($29.6m) and Wagga Wagga ($28.7m). These councils formed part of the 2014/15 state-wide backlog of $1.7 billion.

While the backlog of funding for western NSW councils has reportedly fallen $262 million since the analysis was last conducted in 2013-14 ($560m), it remained high.

The economic cost of not maintaining the roads is much higher, with the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) estimating the average annual cost of road crashes in regional NSW at more than $1.94 billion between 2008 and 2014.

NRMA deputy president Fiona Simson said the burden on regional councils – many of them with small populations – was unsustainable.

“Most of the 146,000km of council-controlled roads in NSW run through the west of the state, so an enormous proportion of the backlog falls on those of us who live west of the Great Dividing Range,” Ms Simson said.

“In the west, there are seldom transport alternatives to roads. Regional councils have done all they can to reduce this backlog, but without recourse to increased funding from the federal and state governments the road toll will continue to be felt painfully in local communities.”

Central west councils are also in strife, with the region’s councils facing a $56.5 million backlog in 2014-15, including a $15,218,000 backlog on the books of Bathurst Regional Council.

Orange City Council had more than $2.6 million in road infrastructure backlog, while Blayney Shire and Cabonne councils, the two councils being considered for amalgamation with Orange, have $6.7 million and $5.6 million backlogs.

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