NSW regional and rural councils now have an extra $390 million for urgent road and pothole repairs under the state’s 2023-2024 budget.
The Minns government said the Regional Emergency Road Repair Fund (RERRF) will be distributed across 95 eligible councils, contingent on the total kilometres of roads under their management and the latest announcement expands total funding for road repairs to $670 million.
Peak trucking body Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) has welcomed the funding boost.
CEO Simon O’Hara said the repair and upgrades of regional and rural roads had been one of the key priorities that RFNSW had raised with both parties, in the lead-up to the state election in March.
“The safety of our RFNSW members and the wider community is the cornerstone of what we do each and every day, which is why we welcome this significant boost in funding for regional and rural roads,” O’Hara said.
“We are pleased that the new program will address urgently-needed road resurfacing, potholes and drainage and other upgrades on the regional road network, which has been badly impacted by natural disasters that NSW has experienced in recent years. This will help make our roads safer and more efficient for truckies, light vehicle users and the wider community, which is important, given the freight task will only continue to grow in the years to come.
“RFNSW commends the Minns government for listening to our concerns and committing to this new funding and we urge the government to continue working with the Commonwealth to deliver a sustainable infrastructure pipeline across the entire NSW road network.”
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Jenny Aitchsion said the RERRF supports councils in managing their roads and prioritising works based on the needs of their communities, particularly those damaged by natural disasters.
“This begins to address the inequity of the former government’s Regional and Local Roads Repair Program which saw urban councils receiving five-times more funding for flood recovery compared to regional, rural and remote councils,” Aitchison said.
“This funding commitment will ensure the roads used by regional communities daily are efficient, safe and reliable so people can travel around town, go to work, education and healthcare, visit their family and friends, and keep our supply chains moving.
“Not only will councils have direct access to funding to fix potholes and make necessary repairs, the delivery of one of our key election commitments will enable preventative or unplanned maintenance to be carried out to ensure safer and smoother journeys for motorists.”
Maintenance work funded under the new program may include heavy road patching, reshaping and smoothing unsealed roads, carrying out work to improve drainage from the road surface, rehabilitating sections of road and resurfacing work.
Additionally, the NSW Government will create a new $334 million Regional Roads Fund for councils to build new roads and roundabouts, replace or repair old bridges and improve safety at crash blackspots in rural and regional areas.
Shadow minister for regional transport and roads, Sam Farraway, said while he’s pleased that after six months in government Aitchison is finally delivering some money to regional roads, she needs to do more – like immediately reinstating the Road Reclassification Program and the $193 million that was allocated to it.
“The Coalition delivered a $19.4 billion regional road and transport infrastructure pipeline, we were building legacy road infrastructure to transform travel in the regions, and repairing roads after the devastating floods,” Farraway said.
“The only way councils can fix potholes is by having the funding which is why we fast tracked $280 million into their bank accounts early this year on top of the very first dedicated $50 million pothole repair program in 2022.
“But Minister Aitchison seems to be under some impression roads can wait. Of the $670 million of supposedly new money, she’s announced today only $30 million will be delivered to councils this financial year. This is shocking and not good enough.
“Regional NSW needs its road funding now; not next year or the year after. Councils also need a leg up by having roads transferred from their management to help ease the burden of maintaining them into the future.”