Councils are desperately playing catch-up in their never-ending quest to keep their roads at a safe standard, with an especially cold and wet winter this year exacerbating the backlog.
And as the City of Ballarat and its surrounding councils continue to grow, more and more pressure is being placed on their road networks with increased traffic volumes and vehicle sizes taxing council budgets and their road maintenance programs.
The wet winter has also caused a increased demand for road maintenance, with more potholes reported on both urban and rural roads throughout the region.
As part of the City of Ballarat's annual road maintenance program, it currently has two tenders open for road patch works, one for stabilisation and one for asphalt works, with a total of 50 locations across the city where the works are required.
Director of infrastructure and environment Bridget Weatherall said while the works were part of council's annual maintenance, other factors were creating greater demand than expected.
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"I think what we found over the winter period is because of particularly higher levels of rain, we have had more potholes be exposed. Plus, we've got a growing population, we've got heavier vehicles and some of our roads weren't designed to carry as many vehicles as they are as well as the type of vehicle," she said.
"We do have extra budget this year but that was forecast before this winter happened. We knew that our road maintenance needs were increasing and have continued to increase, so we have invested more into our road maintenance budgets and they'll likely continue to increase as our road network increases."
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Ms Weatherall said while weather did not help, council was also contending with an ageing road network that was receiving more traffic than it was designed for in some cases.
"We do have an ageing road network, roads are designed for a certain life and a certain type of life and that has changed over the growth of Ballarat and we're seeing that continue," she said.
"The maintenance works are required and we know that this is an area, as Ballarat grows, we need to invest more money in as we consider as necessary knowing that we have lots of other areas to invest money in as well."
While roads maintenance is one of council's key responsibilities, Ms Weatherall said the only long-term solution to council's growing maintenance demand was to eventually upgrade the roads.
"It's increasing the design specifications, it's trailing different road construction materials, but eventually every road that is built will need to be completely reconstructed as well," she said.
"It's having that cyclical program of maintenance and we can maintain for so long but, eventually, a lot of the roads that are continuously being maintained and patched will need a full reconstruction and that is costly.
"It's a bit of an iterative process, but every asset has a life and it goes through a lifecycle. Again, reconstructing and fully replacing an asset is costly and so we're trying to push that out so we can invest that money in lots of other things as well."
The City of Ballarat spends an estimated $3.5-4 million on maintenance for its roads, paths and bridges each year, with even more spent on complete replacement of roads through its capital works budget, much of which relies on support from the state and federal governments.
Moorabool Shire Council manages about 1200 kilometres of road, with about 700 kilometres of that being gravel roads, and mayor Tom Sullivan said growth and the wet winter exacerbated some of the already existing issues across its network in its 'ongoing battle' of road maintenance.
"What is happening, particularly in developments, council inherits the road at the time of subdivision. Sometimes, those developments might have been part of an influx of developments 30 years ago and the life of those roads or the footpaths are now starting to require intervention and maintenance apart from the roads that council has always had like the country roads, etc.," he said.
"I know in parts of what is now Moorabool Shire, the previous councils had done a lot of good work, but the roads themselves were only designed, perhaps in a rural area, for a five-tonne truck. Now we've got b-doubles going down those roads, so that raises the construction requirement on those roads that they were what I would have called local roads at one time.
"Now you have big trucks travelling on this road, which is important in the economic wellbeing of the community and the shire in the broader community, but they're on roads that were never designed for that purpose, so hence you've got to keep reinvesting in the road network to make them fit for purpose."
Cr Sullivan said construction costs had also risen due to supply and demand related to some of the large-scale infrastructure projects currently being undertaken by the state and federal governments.
"That means that the cost of construction has increased more than what we would have normally expected. There is supply and demand, I understand that, and the contractors are doing a great job, but it does put pressure on what you can get done for the amount of dollars that you have," he said.
"All councils are grappling with this and I think it's something where they're all trying to stretch the dollar as far as possible, really, to make sure that they get the best value for their buck and there are a lot of things all contributing to it."
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