Roads to ruin

Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell has called on the State Government to increase its road maintenance in the Limestone Coast following a surge of potholes occurring in recent weeks.

Mr Bell is urging the government to create a road maintenance depot in Mount Gambier or work with local councils on a fee for service basis to ensure urgent attention is given to deteriorating surfaces on State Government owned roads.

Currently the region’s road maintenance depot is located in Naracoorte, however Mr Bell said a depot should be established in Mount Gambier.

“I am calling on the State Government when the contract is up for renewal that any new contract stipulates that whoever is doing road maintenance has to have a depot in Mount Gambier,” he said.e

“We are the state’s second largest city and obviously we have major traffic movements on our roads, this is where the majority of potholes and road maintenance occurs.

“It makes sense it is located here.

“It is my understanding there is a two hour response time needed from when a pot hole is reported to action taken, if you think about where a depot is located an hour and 15 mins away, the maintenance trucks need to come down, it does not seem logical to have your major city an hour and 15 minutes away.”

Mr Bell said he had also started discussions with local councils regarding their involvement in road maintenance going forward.

“Those discussions are about whether a better model would be the State Government actually partners with councils and those councils have the ability to tender for those contracts, because councils have maintenance departments and it would create more employment for our community, we would get a better result and we would get faster response times because those resources and equipment are located close to the city of Mount Gambier,” he said.

“I think this would be a commonsense solution to a problem that seems to occur regularly, last winter and this winter it seems to have escalated in terms of the number of potholes.

“We have got to remember the drivers who are most at risk are our kids, inexperienced L and P plate drivers who hit a pothole do major damage, it could cause them to overcorrect onto the wrong side of the road, it’s a dangerous situation and one that I think there are better solutions going forward.

“I am calling on any tender that goes forward from here on that a requirement of that is there is a maintenance department located in Mount Gambier or the option of partnering with council or other local service providers are actually factored in.”

Mr Bell said he would be working with Member for MacKillop Nick McBride, who had already met with the Department of Infrastructure and Transport.

“They indicated to him there is actually a 15-year backlog in road maintenance in our region,” he said.

“It’s obvious we need more funding for road upgrades and backlog of maintenance, and that’s something I know Nick will be working with and I will be working with the current State Government to get that addressed.

“We have some of the nation’s’ largest transport companies based here, there is a lot of freight going out of our region, it is the most productive part of South Australia, to assist that we need good road infrastructure.

“It is a high priority, one we need to continually work on.

“It seems to come to a head around winter, again we have had a very wet winter, undermining of the road surface is a problem and those factors have got to be considered in terms of allocations of funds as well.”

Mr Bell said his office received many calls regarding problems on State Government roads.

“A lot of it is to do with damage to tyres and rims, and we have taken that up on behalf of a number of people, but prevention is always better than a cure,” he said.

“I have asked in the past whether there has been a change in the standard of roads, you go back a number of years and we did not seem to have these problems.

“Now it’s occurring more and more and we are seeing relatively newer roads having problems with potholes and deterioration and the Millicent road and overtaking areas are prime examples of that, those roads are not that old.

“But it keeps coming back to me the standard is being met and has not changed, there must be another factor in why the roads are deteriorating at the rate they are deteriorating.”

Mr McBride said he was aware of the “poor condition of many roads in my electorate of MacKillop” and while in government, was a strong advocate for increased funding to help with the backlog of maintenance, which was left by previous governments.

“While the Liberal Government did begin chipping away at that backlog, I have been told by authorities that some of our roads are 17 years past their use by date,” he said.

“This is obviously a concern for road users.

“It is well known that contractors, employed to maintain our roads, have struggled to keep up with maintenance.

“I fully support the Member for Mount Gambier’s call to have a Fulton Hogan depot based in Mount Gambier, or a fee for service agreement with local councils.

“This would, hopefully, see road maintenance completed in a more-timely manner.

“Shoulder sealing has widened our roads, but it has also added to the maintenance of our road surface.

In places we have seen the original road surfaces crumble where the new edge meets the old section of the road.

“This has no doubt exacerbated the maintenance backlog.

“Works are needed from the Southern Mallee Highway, in the north through to southern roads of the Limestone Coast.

“I am frequently raising issues in relation to our roads with the new Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Tom Koutsantonis.

“Most recently I have written about the need for urgent repairs to deep and dangerous potholes on the Southern Ports Highway.

“It is my desire to see the worst sections of this road resurfaced.

“I will continue to advocate for more funding for my electorate, particularly for urgent road maintenance.

“A safe road network is imperative for rural communities.”

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