Councils need dollars to beat potholes
By Jane Ross and Brad Lester
COUNCILS have called for more funding to fix highways and roads in South Gippsland as the region experiences the most severe potholes for many years.
As potholes continue to riddle the South Gippsland Highway, Bass Coast Shire Council is seeking an urgent meeting with Victorian Roads Minister, Tim Pallas.
At issue is the alarming state of the Bass Highway between Leongatha and Anderson and South Dudley Road, a main thoroughfare in Wonthaggi.
South Gippsland Shire Council is fixing potholes on local roads as quickly as possible, but director of infrastructure, Anthony Seabrook, wants more support from the State and Federal governments.
“We could always use more funding,” he said.
That plea was backed by a recent report by the Road Safety Committee of the Victorian Parliament, which said local roads warranted more federal funding.
Committee chair John Eren, Lara MP, said: “Despite being where most journeys begin and end, there are many local roads across Australia that are crumbling or lack even basic safety.”
Deep holes, rough surfaces and holes where new work meets old are plaguing the Bass Highway.
Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Peter Paul spoke to VicRoads three weeks ago about the matter. VicRoads has said weekly inspections of the highway are undertaken.
Cr Veronica Dowman described Bass Highway as “shocking”.
“It’s seriously bad and really dangerous,” she said.
South Gippsland Shire Council receives $2.6 million from the State Government and nearly $4 million from the Federal Government to maintain 1200km of gravel roads and 800km of sealed roads.
VicRoads acting regional director Harvey Dinelli has received many reports from the public about issues on the South Gippsland and Bass highways.
“Temporary pothole filling on both the South Gippsland and Bass Highways is underway, before the planned long term solution of asphalt patching is carried out in warmer weather conditions later this year,” he said.
Mr Dinelli continued to blame the potholes on significant rain after a long dry period.
“We are aware of the community’s concern and have crews out repairing damage as quickly as possible within available resources,” he said.
In South Gippsland this winter, roads have been underwater and a bridge on the Buffalo-Waratah Road collapsed after flooding undermined bridge abutments.
“We are just filling the potholes because to put a grader on the road would just turn the road to slush,” Mr Seabrook said.
“As soon as the weather fines up, we will get the grader out and fix the roads up properly. We really need to rip the roads up and grade them and put them back to shape.”
Council will increase spending on the resealing of road works over time to ensure roads hold up, as council reduces its debt, making more money available for capital works.
Council this year allocated $1.74 million to reseal sealed roads annually and $1.1 million to resheet gravel roads.
Last year, $1.55 million was dedicated to resealing. Next year that sum will be $1.95 million.
VicRoads encourages the community to report road faults by phoning 13 11 70. Faults will be inspected and repaired.
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