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Roads caught in juggling act

Guest speakers: Acting Inspector Damian Whitford, VTA CEO Philip Lovel, VicRoads manager of project development Kenn Beer, training and safety co-ordinator for Holcim Tom Wachal and Wayne Clarke from Knorr-Bremse all spoke at the South Gippsland Crash Reduction Strategy Gathering in Leongatha.

THE State Government does not have money available to keep up with road maintenance, South Gippsland Shire Council CEO Tim Tamlin indicated last week.
He said anecdotally, the lack of road funding was connected with the drought in the 2000s.
“Because we had the drought, road maintenance hadn’t been a focus,” he said.
“If the road asset is going okay and keeping up with people’s requirements, money will come out of that and go to one that has got higher demand; it’s the old supply/demand economic drivers.
“Now the roads have gone feral because of all the wet weather, and the drains have not been maintained perhaps as good as they should’ve been. Now the roads are falling apart and there’s no money to get in there and fix it up.
“They can’t get the money without having an impact on another service and it’s really tricky.”
Mr Tamlin said this at a truck safety forum in Leongatha last Wednesday.
VicRoads acting regional director Sebastian Motta said funding for the roads sector has remained relatively stable, with a slight increase over the last 10 years.
“You need to manage and prioritise with the funding you have available,” he said.
“Across the state, obviously the government needs to prioritise between hospital, police and so forth, and we need to do what we can with the available funding that we get to maintain our roads.”
Mr Motta said roads focused on by VicRoads contractors were considered on a case by case basis.
“What we would do is look at the road and the volume and mix of traffic that it carries, whether it’s commercial vehicles, trucks and that sort of thing. Depending on the location, we would just prioritise on the basis of that information,” he said.
“Then we would go back and look at what we need to do, like putting an overlay on top of just doing some basic treatments like pothole patching or refreshing up the line marking depending on the location.”
Sometimes VicRoads implements a holding treatment if the road is not a priority.
“What we aim to do is make the road safe; temporarily repair it,” Mr Motta said.
“Then you might find our contractors coming back within weeks or months when they are better able to prioritise and schedule it in with larger works, and do three, four, five more larger patches in that area to make it more cost effective.
Mr Motta said, from a network point of view, some areas are better than others and VicRoads is concentrating on the worst areas first.
“Making the roads safe for road users is really the objective,” he said.
A heated discussion ended the second annual South Gippsland Crash Reduction Strategy Gathering.
Truck drivers questioned the state of the roads, accusing contractors of not doing their jobs properly and saying money was spent the wrong way.
VicRoads manager of project development Kenn Beer, who spoke to the group, defended how VicRoads spent its money.
“We understand the frustration and you could take me out tomorrow and show me the roads are not great in some areas, but we have to identify and deal with the biggest problems first,” he said.
“Sometimes it may seem like things aren’t getting fixed, but we have to decide between doing minor repairs on a large stretch of road to make it safe or do full repairs on a small section, leaving potholes through the rest of the road.
“You can help by calling 13 11 70 and report hazards.”
Another way of reporting road problems was raised by Tom Wachal, training and safety co-ordinator for Holcim.
Mr Wachal introduced the group to the ‘Near Miss’ reporting system and explained their importance in improving overall driver safety.
A near miss report is a report on an incident that almost or could have happened.
Victorian Transport Association CEO Philip Lovel said he was working on numerous road safety measures.
Acting Inspector for the Bass Coast Police Service Area Damian Whitford spoke about what Victoria Police are doing to crack down on heavy vehicle safety.
The police have introduced a new Heavy Vehicle Unit which will target trucks while other units have been encouraged to intercept heavy vehicles.
“We don’t have a whole lot of data on heavy vehicles at the moment, but when we figure out which companies are doing the right thing you won’t be bothered as much,” he said.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=3601

Posted by on May 30 2012. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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