Home to a booming timber and beef industry, the Limestone Coast contributes hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the economy. Yet you may not think so by looking at the condition of some of its roads.
Potholes have become a major problem, with recent heavy rain only amplifying the issue.
One of the councils in the area is the Wattle Range Council, which recently deployed extensive resources to fix a backlog of potholes on the unsealed road network – though this doesn’t cover many of the major roads, which come under the state government.
Wattle Range mayor Des Noll says some of the roads are in a very bad way, particularly the Princes Highway from Millicent to Mount Gambier, and Mile Hill Road. “The road network is in extremely poor condition due to a lack of maintenance over a number of years. The road repairs they have done have not been sufficient to sustain our wet weather. It’s a highly productive region and is in desperate need of funding just to maintain public infrastructure,” he said.
“The state government is not servicing the road network as it should. I’m surprised the government has let it get to this state, with the Limestone Coast being one of the most diverse primary producing regions. They’ve just let it get into disrepair.”
Noll added that heavy vehicles are a vital part of the puzzle for local industries. “Trucks are significant to our area and they have to be able to use these roads. Transport operators are very much the backbone of our industries in the Limestone Coast and it’s about protecting them as a priority as well. Millions of dollars would be needed over a period of time to bring our roads back into a serviceable condition.”
With the Wattle Range Council working to fix its roads, it’s hoping the state government will step up and do the same.
“As you would imagine, with almost 2500 kilometres of roads to maintain, and almost 2000 kilometres of them being unsealed, potholes are a high priority on our works list,” said the council’s chief executive officer Ben Gower.
This year he says the council has committed to spending $1,200,000 on additional gravel pavement for its unsealed roads, which is an increase of almost $400,000 from the previous year.
But he added that the issue of potholes on sealed roads is a different challenge. “Not all roads are council’s responsibility to maintain and the state government is responsible for maintaining the condition of our major transport links and highways,” said Gower.
“While council’s sealed roads are in relatively good condition, the major state government road network is not, and needs urgent attention. Council have consistently requested repair works on these roads, however these requests have been generally ignored for years.”
During a recent council meeting, Wattle Range Council voted to write a letter to Infrastructure and Transport Minister Corey Wingard seeking urgent repairs to the Princes Highway between Millicent and Mount Gambier.
Big Rigs contacted Wingard for comment. “The recent very wet weather has caused some potholes to form throughout the wetter areas of the South Australia,” he said.
“The Department for Infrastructure and Transport is undertaking additional inspections to ensure potholes are identified and filled as soon as possible to ensure that any affected roads are safe for road users.”
Wingard added, “Extra crews are being mobilised across the South East, including bringing in a specialised patching vehicle from Victoria.”