$36 MILLION – that is the backlog of road work in the Shoalhaven.
Shoalhaven City Council spends between $8 and $9 million a year on building and repairing roads throughout the district, but staff have been pushing for that figure to be increased to $15 million.
However bringing all council’s roads up to the required standard within one year would cost $36 million, according to council staff.
Shoalhaven Mayor Paul Green said the answer lay in council attracting additional funding.
“We could really do with some more government funding just to help with our roads,” he said.
Council strategic planning director, Peter Adams, confirmed, “There’s a big gap between what we spend each year and what we need to spend to keep the roads up to scratch – and a big catch-up.”
Mr Adams said staff had spent a year assessing the condition of all council roads, to calculate the gap between where funding should be and where it was.
Staff also looked at needs for preventative maintenance and rehabilitation of failed pavements, he said.
In recent weeks council has come under increasing fire over the state of roads it maintains.
Former Shoalhaven mayor Greg Watson has led the charge, regularly pointing out the parlous state of the region’s roads.
Cr Watson said a massive injection of funds might not be the answer, as several council road projects had failed soon after completion.
“This sort of thing’s not good enough,” he said.
“When we construct a new pavement, it’s totally unacceptable to see it fail almost immediately.”
Cr Watson said problems with the quality of road projects could be traced back to earlier decisions to reduce standards and stop testing road base materials.
When council opened a quarry at Comberton Grange, “There was a decision to reduce council standards for road base at that time because the material we were taking from the quarry didn’t measure up to contemporary standards,” Cr Watson said.
In addition council has closed its roads materials testing laboratory as a cost-saving measure, he added, so there was no way of testing whether the road material it was receiving met Australian standards.
Mayoral hopeful Joanna Gash has also called for more use to be made of contractors to repair roads.
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