The City of Ballarat has blamed subpar Victorian government engineering standards as the overriding reason for the Ballarat Link Road "priority works", which have led to road closures for the second time this month.
A City of Ballarat spokesperson confirmed the "substantial repairs" - that are costing ratepayers in the order of $100,000 - consist of short-term asphalt patching works until more permanent repairs can be undertaken, meaning drivers ought to expect more Link Road closures in the coming months.
The spokesperson added that the works were "surface level repairs", primarily arising from the shallow depth of the road asphalt, and did not owe to the pavement depth (the layer underneath the asphalt), which, they said, is "stable and in good condition".
"The road was completed in 2018 by the City of Ballarat on behalf of the state government and is now managed by City of Ballarat," the spokesperson said, noting that the damage was not - contrary to common belief - weather-related.
"The road asphalt was constructed at a depth of 40mm, consistent with the required [Regional Roads Victoria] standards appropriate in 2018 [and] is the reason the repairs are needed."
Federation University civil engineering lecturer Amin Soltani, who recently spoke to this masthead, said that an asphalt layer of anything less than 100mm for a local road would ordinarily occasion ongoing maintenance costs.
"Contractors usually try to go with the least expensive option when it comes to road design and construction, [but] if they come up with a design which dictates 100mm of asphalt, it will be enough," Dr Soltani said, adding that an "urban interesting highway" with heavy traffic would, by contrast, require an asphalt layer approaching 150mm in depth, if not more, to obviate ongoing repairs.
"But if you want to be really safe you can go for 120mm [for an ordinary local road]. It's more expensive, but at least you reduce the maintenance costs in the long-term.
"[Ballarat] does have a lot of issues with roads. There're some roads in Victoria which go through maintenance programs for many, many years; it shouldn't be like that."
The City of Ballarat spokesperson said all future roads would incorporate a deeper asphalt layer to guard against the risk of premature failures, but did not specify whether this depth would equal, exceed or be less than 150mm.
"We continue to ensure all roads planned meet the specifications of Regional Roads Victoria, which states all future roads must incorporate a deeper asphalt layer to protect the road," they said.
The City of Ballarat also confirmed it would not modify its position on liability for damage to vehicles arising from potholes or cracks in its roads. That policy, which derives its force from the Road Management Act, provides that it is the driver - not council - who must bear the costs for damage of anything equal to or less than $1460.
City of Ballarat is only liable for the difference between that threshold amount and repairs that exceed $1460 in costs, meaning, they would refund a driver $40 if the driver had received a repair bill of $1500.
The City of Ballarat budget for the next financial year has allocated $11.2 million for road maintenance alone - an increase of $700,000.
"We want the community to know we are listening to their concerns, and we are delivering major investment to keep our roads safe," the spokesperson said.
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