NRMA and a long-term fix for road funding

11-07-2018 by admin

WITH an eye firmly on the looming federal election, the National Roads and Motorists’ Association has issued a new report on road maintenance in NSW, which calls, unsurprisingly, for more public funding to cut into the backlog of works the organisation says has built up over the decades.
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But in this age of budget deficits and government cutbacks, a simple call for more money is likely to fall on deaf ears.

So the NRMA justifies the call for more spending by arguing that better roads make safer roads, and that safer roads result in fewer accidents.

As things stand, the NRMA argues that road accidents cost the nation between $2 billion and $4.5 billion a year (depending on how the costs are calculated), withrural and regional Australia bearing more than half of the impact.

In this light, the NRMA argues that the extra money spent on road maintenance will be more than offset by the savings in fatalities and injuries.

The new NRMA report also shows how much the typical motorist depends on council-funded roads. Across NSW, local councils are responsible for all but about 40,000 kilometres of the state’s185,000-kilometre road network.

And of these 145,000 kilometres of council-funded and maintained roads, more than half of them –or almost 80,000 kilometres –are unsealed.

Across NSW, the NRMA says local roads are facing an infrastructure backlog of $1.7 billion, with the Hunter and Central Coast region being the biggest individual contributor, with a backlog of almost $287 billion. While more government funding would be needed to eat into the backlog, the NRMA’s calculations also indicated that many councils were not spending all of the road funding they’d been allocated.

To this end, the NRMA is recommending reform of local government sector road funding, and says greater co-operation between councils would help them deal more effectively and efficiently with their infrastructure burdens, especially in light of what it says is a lack of qualified engineering expertise at council level.

Toll roads and private public partnership might work on motorways and cross-city tunnels, but the rest of the state relies on the efficient use of taxpayer funds to keep local highways and bywaysfree of potholes.

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