VicRoads launches “digital dashboard” for country roads

Roads Minister Luke Donnellan and VicRoads chief John Merritt at the announcement in Ballarat.
Roads Minister Luke Donnellan and VicRoads chief John Merritt at the announcement in Ballarat.

After long-running public consultation, VicRoads says it will become more transparent with regional drivers.

South-west road users have been involved in community meetings and online feedback on the region’s roads, with poor maintenance a common theme.

In response, Roads Minister Luke Donnellan and VicRoads chief executive John Merritt released the Country Roads, Your insights, Our Actions report in Ballarat on Tuesday.

While there was a focus on transparency, the announcement did not come with any new strategies or funding to address the state of country roads.

Outgoing VicRoads chief executive John Merritt said the organisation was being brutally honest about the work it was doing.

“The issue of maintenance weighed heavily, with criticisms at times of the work we are doing,” he said.

“People want more visibility and more data on roads.”

Tuesday’s announcement included a new “digital dashboard” to provide up-to-date information on road upgrades, maintenance and major projects.

A rating tool to measure the dangers of country roads, starting with the state’s 20 most accident prone highways, was also announced.

Roads Minister Luke Donnellan said the biggest challenge was accommodating the fast-growing regional centres in Victoria.

“We have doubled the spend on road maintenance and identified where freight upgrades need to happen,” he said.

“Rural and regional Victoria has grown faster in the past 12 months than anywhere else.”

The state government said the consultation process involved feedback from 11,000 Victorians, 700 stakeholders and 30 councils.

It said public feedback was also informing Transport for Victoria’s development of a regional roads strategy.

Member for South-West Coast Roma Britnell said it was going to take “a lot more than a new website and a glossy document to fix the issues we have with our roads”.

“Transparency is great – but we also need to address the inefficiencies in the management and maintenance of country roads the Victorian Auditor General highlighted earlier this year,” she said.

The state government spent $260 million on roads maintenance in the last year. This included fixing more than 850km of deteriorating roads.