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Councils declare roads emergency

A roadtrain stranded west of Walgett near the Barwon Bridge on the Kameriloi Highway. Photo supplied

Tricia Duffield

Local Government NSW has declared a statewide roads emergency, as mayors across NSW say their councils are facing financial disaster.

Rain and floods have decimated roads in rural communities, causing an estimated $2.5 billion in damage and a collapse of the rural road network.

Widespread road closures and deteriorating roads and highways will mean councils will face a massive financial burden to repair infrastructure.

Adding to the crisis will be the shortage of workers and equipment to carry out repairs, with councils competing against each other for road crews and plant.

At the National Local Roads and Transport Congress in Hobart last week, the emergency declaration was unanimously supported, with LGNSW calling for a significant increase in funding for the $1.1 billion Fixing Local Roads program.

It is also requesting road grants be boosted to compensate for the damage to the rural road network and new funding to provide councils with plant and skilled workers for road repairs.

LGNSW President, Darriea Turley, warned that without extra funding, the economic and social harm caused ‘would only get worse’.

“More than 220 natural disaster areas have been declared across NSW this year, leaving the road network in a state of disrepair,” Cr Turley said.

“Road repair funding pledged to date has fallen short of what is required so we’re declaring this Statewide Roads Emergency to get help before the situation becomes worse.”

Bourke Mayor, Barry Hollman, said the declaration would hopefully fast track funding so councils could get started on the massive repair job.

“It didn’t surprise me that this decision was unanimous, because there is not a road in NSW that doesn’t need repair,” he said.

“I drove from Bourke to Cessnock three weeks ago and the roads were cut up everywhere

“After long wet spells the damage occurs under the bitumen surface and forms a blister and when weight goes over it, that blister bursts.

“Once the roads start breaking up, they deteriorate very quickly because of persistent use.

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