South-west roads need rivers of cash

Roads Minister Luke Donnellan on the Hopkins Highway when he announced a $44 million package in August.

Roads Minister Luke Donnellan on the Hopkins Highway when he announced a $44 million package in August.

It’s as if we need pots of gold to fix the ever increasing number and size of pot holes in the south-west’s roads.

The Great South Coast Group of councils has been advocating for $200 million for road improvements on top of annual maintenance.

In August Roads Minister Luke Donnellan (pictured) splashed $44 million in the region for upgrades but critics argued that was only marginally more than the annual maintenance budget, liking it to a patch up job.

This week, Port Fairy-based Western Victoria MP James Purcell suggested VicRoads be scrapped and replaced with separate city and country roads authorities in the hope rural roads would get a better share of the funding pie.

While the duplication of bureaucracies is a major stumbling block, anything that delivers more funding to our roads is worth considering.

Down the patchy Princes Highway, Polwarth MP Richard Riordan suggested a toll was needed on the Great Ocean Road so the crumbling surface could be improved after closures for 40 days so far this year.

The toll idea comes 11 months after Timboon bus operator David Pope floated the idea of Electronic Road Pricing, a concept used in Singapore where roads users pay a fee for trips on certain roads depending on the size of the vehicle and distance travelled.

Mr Pope had suggested a system could be developed on VicRoads-managed arterial roads as a way to generate more funds for road improvements

This creative thinking is what we need.

Our road problems have been decades in the making. And the solution will probably take decades more.

When we launched our #Homesafe campaign last month that creates a conversation about driving down the road toll, a common response to reducing fatalities and serious injuries was “fix the roads”.

The sheer mountain of money needed is so great, we are unlikely to see it any time soon. That’s why something has to change.

The existing funding model is not working. Should vehicle registrations be scrapped and tolls introduced on major roads?

Are tolls really a bad idea on commercial users, especially ones causing much of the damage?

Is it ridiculous to charge international tourists a fee to drive along the jewel in our crumbling crown of roads?

There are precedents in other parts of the world, so why don’t we think big?

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