The south-west holds the dubious honour of having the state’s worst roads. But after more than 86mm of rain in two weeks – more than our entire September average – the roads are even worse.
Pavements are crumbling, large holes are opening up and verges are full of craters.
This week a number of tyre dealers revealed shocking roads were keeping them busy. They reported motorists were furious they were up for expensive repair bills, replacing shattered rims and shredded tyres.
Back in June we reported VicRoads was calling for submissions from motorists about the region’s worst roads so it could establish a priority repair list. The list is reportedly two weeks away from being finalised.
The rain’s impact on the region’s roads will no doubt complicate the priority list because more roads than ever need repairs.
The issue though is that costly repairs are not enough. A road like the Hopkins Highway between Mortlake and Warrnambool wasn’t built to last as long as it has. While motorists appreciate repairs, the road needs to be rebuilt. It is not the only one.
The issue is the cost. Governments on both sides of politics and at both state and federal level have failed to adequately fund our roads for years. We are now feeling the full impact. There is no bucket of money big enough to fix the problem and politically our safe-seat status doesn’t help leverage cash. We need a solution.
Every winter it’s wet, every winter our roads deteriorate. But the funding available really only brings our roads back to where they were before the rain. We never seem to get ahead as constant patch up jobs are made. Tax-paying motorists are right to be fed up with poor roads.
South-west MPs Roma Britnell and James Purcell were vocal this week urging the government to fix roads rather than adopt Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Doug Fryer’s suggestion to lower the speed limit on unsealed country roads from 100km/h to 70km/h.
The force’s senior officer sees slower limits as a way to reduce the road toll. It’s a fair suggestion, especially when the number of deaths and serious accidents in country areas are over represented in crash statistics.
But why do we need slower limits?
If roads were built and maintained to an acceptable standard, we wouldn’t need to change speed limits.
Our political leaders need to find sustainable solutions fast – our lives depend on it.