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SA councils call for better road maintenance

The SA Freight Council (SAFC) says councils across South Australia, especially various regional councils, are calling for improved road maintenance on state roads.

Just last month, Wattle Range Council vented its frustrations and highlighting that potholes have become a major concern. The council has issued an urgent demand to fix dangerous defects on state roads before a fatal crash occurs.

“As you would imagine, with almost 2500 km of roads to maintain, and almost 2000 km of them being unsealed, potholes are a high priority on our works list,” said Wattle Range Council’s chief executive officer Ben Gower.

“The challenge around maintaining council’s unsealed roads is a long-term one. We have a large number of roads that need additional gravel pavement. This additional pavement reduces the number of potholes, and improves the overall strength of the unsealed road. This year we have committed to spending $1,200,000 on additional gravel pavement for our unsealed roads, which is an increase of almost $400,000 from the previous year,” he said.

“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.

“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. Discussion at a recent council meeting on this very problem has prompted another letter to be sent to the Minster for Transport, with copies to both our state and federal members, seeking urgent action.”

In its recent newsletter, SA Freight said that the significant increases in road maintenance funding with up to $283m in 2021/22 expenditure coming off the back of both state and Commonwealth budget measures is just a starting point.

“SAFC expects that expenditure of this magnitude will improve road conditions across the state, but it will take a sustained effort over many years to eliminate the state’s $800 million-plus road maintenance backlog entirely. Furthermore, implementation of this additional funding may take some time to have a noticeable effect on state road condition but is a large step in the right direction.

“Councils are urging constituents to report any potholes or other maintenance issues on state roads directly to the Department of Infrastructure and Planning on 1300 872 677, as this will help flag common issues to the government so that funding can be well directed. Some Councils are also taking the time to write to the department themselves highlighting known issues,” SAFC concluded.

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