A DAMNING report has revealed a road funding backlog of more than $40 million in the Tamworth council area.
The staggering figure, released exclusively to The Leader by the NRMA, has reignited calls for the federal government to pour more of the fuel excise into repairing regional roads.
According to Tamworth Regional Council’s (TRC) own figures for last financial year, contained in the report, the council’s 3000km-plus road network had an infrastructure backlog of $41,834,000.
TRC general manager Paul Bennett said the report highlighted the critical need for more federal cash to be ploughed into regional roads.
“A lot of these roads were built post-World War II when the government was focused on work creation,” Mr Bennett said.
“They were handed over to councils (to manage) but the subsequent funding or revenue stream was never enough to maintain the assets over their lifespan.
“When the road sub-base does start to get to the end of its life, we simply don’t have the revenue to do what we did back then.”
Mr Bennett renewed calls for the federal government to provide 1 per cent of GST revenue, rather than the current figure of about 0.7 per cent, to local government.
“If we could get that, it would go a long way to arresting the infrastructure and maintenance backlog,” he said.
The $41 million backlog figure refers to bringing the road network up to “minimum safety standard”.
TRC manages the largest regional road network in NSW, he said.
The NRMA report revealed there was a basic road maintenance shortfall of $811,000 last financial year in the TRC area.
NRMA local director Graham Blight said some local councils would take years to clear their backlog of roadworks at current funding levels.
“Some councils across western NSW have no choice but to let bad roads get worse – the money is simply not there for them to fix roads that are seeing more and more traffic each year,” he said.
“It’s not the local councils who are to blame – they’re simply asking for money to bring their local roads up to a satisfactory standard, including fixing pot-holes and repainting faded lines.
“The problem in all of regional NSW is made worse where heavy rain can quickly deteriorate local roads.
“Fixing local roads also benefits the community as the cost of crashes to the NSW economy amounts to $2 billion each year.”
Currently, over $16 billion is collected by the federal government from the fuel excise levy but less than a third of it is returned to the road network.