The state’s new regional roads body has promised to work closely with local councils to fix more of Victoria’s dire road network.
Regional Roads Victoria officially launched in Ballarat on Monday, to be based within the existing VicRoads Wendouree regional office until GovHub on the Civic Hall site opens in 2020.
Regional Roads Victoria’s chief officer Paul Northey said as an “advocate for regional road users”, the challenge was fixing the state’s vast 19,000 kilometres of regional road networks.
“For road users, they don’t care too much if it’s a VicRoads or a local government road, they want to see road improvement, so we’ve got to make sure we’re coordinated in the works that we do,” he said.
We’re not going to be able to do everything all at once. My role is really going to be … to hook in with the federal, state and local government, to make sure we’re having a coordinated approach to how we improve regional roads.Regional Roads Victoria chief officer Paul Northey
Mr Northey said the government body would announce more programs in the coming weeks to “further help local government in terms of their road networks”.
But Moorabool Shire Council mayor Paul Tatchell said “something’s got to give” when it comes to a lack of roads funding for geographically large shires in Victoria.
Moorabool has more than 1,800 kilometres of road infrastructure, and budgeted more than $8.1 million in the 2018/19 financial year for the creation and upkeep on roads. Total capital works for the municipality over the same period was planned to be $18 million.
“The sad thing is the depreciation of infrastructure will destroy regional shires,” Cr Tatchell said.
“We’re frustrated, because we’re considered a safe seat … we keep to our budgets, run a tight ship, but we’ve been overlooked for political reasons.”
“Inevitably, if they don’t start to better fund shires as big as Moorabool, they’ll end up forcing amalgamations.”
Upcoming RRV works around Ballarat – totaling $45 million – include the rehabilitation of three kilometres of the Midland Highway near Meredith and Elaine, and surface repairs along the Ballarat-Maryborough Road just north of Miners Rest.
The RRV has 24 employees, with Ballarat’s call centre open to enquiries and hazard reports from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. The four other existing regional VicRoads offices will remain.
More than 1500 kilometres of country roads will be repaired, resurfaced or rebuilt under the $333 million maintenance program.
Roads and road safety minister Luke Donnellan said he “wasn’t going to pretend” country roads were perfect, but RRV was created to “get better outcomes and deliver roads fit for purpose”.