Council admits roads failure
SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council has taken the blame for the poor state of the region’s unsealed roads.
Mayor Cr Warren Raabe was happy to declare council has not been maintaining unsealed roads properly.
“The works we are doing now are definitely not as good as they were 10 to 15 years ago,” he said.
“Having recognised this, we are moving funds to look at the maintenance of roads, particularly unsealed roads.”
Director of engineering services, Anthony Seabrook, said the current road management plan virtually absolved council of responsibility if unsealed roads were not up to scratch.
“We will be reviewing the current road management plan which will help us to improve response times, fix minor issues and should help to reduce the amount of bigger issues arising,” he said.
“The major focus in the short term will be keeping the roads safe. We will look to pull drains and repair culverts across the drier months.”
While council does not want to make excuses for the lack of maintenance on unsealed roads, Mr Seabrook and Cr Raabe mentioned several contributing factors.
“We have gotten away with not maintaining the roads because it has been dry. That became apparent last year,” Cr Raabe said.
Mr Seabrook added: “It was too wet last year to keep crews on roads long enough to get the job done properly.”
Cr Raabe added: “There are reasons, but not enough to say we (council) are blameless, because we aren’t.”
The funding for more unsealed road maintenance will come from the $1 million provided by VicRoads for road maintenance initially put aside for bridge works.
“It turns out the issues we thought existed with bridges and culverts were not as bad as we first thought. It is comforting from the point of view that we don’t have to go there as well,” Mr Seabrook said.
“The $1 million should last approximately six months and at the end of that time, we will consider maintaining the service change.”
Another focus of the scale up will be spraying the roadsides. Council does not normally spray the sides of unsealed roads, where the overgrown grass and weeds can be a contributing factor to blocked drains.
“It will cost about $140,000 just to spray the roadsides,” Cr Raabe said.
“Council spends around $11 million on road works annually. From a $50 million budget, we are spending a lot on roads.
“When there are major weather events, council is compensated by the State Government, or we just couldn’t cope. We have $3.5 million worth of work to do on flood recovery after the latest storm.”
The new roads management strategy will see two new zones established, in addition to the two already in place, in an attempt to speed up response times.
One of the new depots will be established in the Tarwin Lower area, the other in Korumburra. The existing depots are located in Foster and Leongatha.
The current depots will be handled by internal council crews, the new depots will be handled by contractors, under the supervision of council.
The landslips that have occurred recently will be rectified by council maintenance crews.
“The capital works we have planned will be contracted out and the in-house crews will primarily look after the slips. We have picked up 30 to 40 new landslides already,” Mr Seabrook said.
Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=3785