Local Government NSW (LGNSW) has welcomed the announcement of $1.1 billion Roads to Recovery funding for the nation’s councils, part of a Federal Budget package that also includes more money for the Bridges Renewal Program and additional black spot funding.
“It’s great to see this focus on road safety,” the peak body’s President Linda Scott said.
“We want everyone who travels on our roads to reach their destination safely, and all tiers of government must work together to keep reducing the road toll towards zero.
“Getting our roads up to a safe standard is a massive job.
“In fact, it’s only when you note the NRMA recently reported a maintenance funding backlog of more than $2.2 billion for NSW roads alone that you get a clear idea of the magnitude of the task.
“When you factor in the reality that the funding announced today will be spread nationally, over a ten-year period, it really hits home just how far we have to go in this area.”
The Funding Local Roads report, released by the NRMA in January this year, found the regional and local roads infrastructure backlog in NSW had increased by 30% from $1.73 billion in 2014-2015 to $2.2 billion in 2016-17.
The report said the backlog was now at an unacceptable level, with obvious safety risks apparent.
Clr Scott warned that the road maintenance and safety challenge facing all levels of government was being further exacerbated by climate and lack of water.
“The latest analysis by the NSW Department of Primary Industries reports 99.9% of the state is still experiencing drought conditions,” she said.
“You need water to fix and maintain roads, but the bores in so many of our regional towns are dry.”
The road funding announcement was unveiled just days before Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivers his first-ever Budget, which is expected to include a range of pre-election sweeteners for regional and rural Australia.
- $1.1 billion in funding for local governments under the Roads to Recovery Program
- $550 million for the Black Spot Program, which targets known high-risk locations
- A total of $571.1 million in funding for the Bridges Renewal Program, Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, and Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiatives.
“The additional funding to be included in next week’s Federal Budget is very welcome, but we cannot pretend that it is a solution to our local government funding challenges,” Clr Scott said.
“The maintenance backlog and its impact on road safety will continue to increase incrementally despite this funding, and there is a real risk that we are just kicking the can down the road to be dealt with at a later time.”
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