Budget pothole a ‘road to ruin’

20-11-2018 by admin

WAGGA’S roads are 10times worse than Albury’s and it will take more than $28 million to bring them up to scratch, according to a report by the NRMA.

However, the report also indicated Wagga’sbacklog has been slashed by more than 55 per cent in 12 months, from$65.6 million.

The state’s motoring body has called on the federal government to triple its road repair funding and give councils a greater share of the fuel excise, a call to action backed by council general manager Alan Eldridge.

Mr Eldridge said council was still trying to wade through the backlog of damage caused by the 2012 flood.

“Council has estimated an additional $10 million per year is required to make serious inroads into the backlog,” Mr Eldridge said.

“We shouldn’t have a $28m backlog, but we’re working on getting that down.

“Last year council spent around $15mon the maintenance and renewal of roads and this year we will spend approximately $20m.”

Councillor Dallas Tout praised the federal government for splashing cash on the big ticket projects, but claimed a three-yearfreeze ontheFinancial Assistance Grantto local government had squeezed$1m from council’s coffers.

“Thankfully the federal governmentin last week’s budget indicated the three-yearfreezewill be lifted,” Cr Tout said.

“Wagga has done well out of funding programs like the Bomen freight hub and works between the highway and Eunony Bridge.

“But we’re underfunded and while theone-offs plug the gaps,eventually recurrent funding needs to be increased.”

Riverina MP Michael McCormack rejected claims the government hadn’t done enough for regional roads, boasting of record infrastructure spending.

“Our government has poured in a record $50 billion into infrastructure since 2013, which no government in history has done,” he said.

“More locally, we’ve contributed a record $77 million just in Riverina throughRoads to Recovery funding.

“As I go around the 14 shires in Riverina, the mayors and council engineers are delighted with the government’s investment.”

The NRMA estimated regional councils are shouldering the burden ofthe maintenance backlog, representing $1.3 billion of the $1.7b state-wide log-jam.

NRMA predicts the backlog will take 10 years to clear at the current rates of funding.

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