Is it time for councils to fork out funds to fix state-run roads? Corangamite Shire councillor Simon Illingworth asks

Councils might have to start forking out for improvements to major roads to keep their communities safe, a Corangamite Shire councillor says.

Cr Simon Illingworth said he was increasingly frustrated at the condition of VicRoads’ managed roads. 

“If this continues, if the state-controlled roads continue to be in such poor condition then at some point in time we’re going to have to say ‘you know what, we’re going to have to spend ratepayers’ money on state roads’, and that’s the unfortunate reality” he said.

“I am not happy to be a councillor in a shire where any road is in such poor condition as what we’re seeing.”

Cr Illingworth’s comments follow the release of the council’s annual community satisfaction survey, which found the condition of sealed and unsealed roads was again a major bugbear for ratepayers. Previous surveys have shown the council is often blamed for roads under VicRoads control.

Cr Illingworth said the council was “pumping millions of dollars” into repairing its own roads, but that there were “roads that are threatening people’s lives that are run by the state”. 

Moyne Shire’s community satisfaction survey followed a similar trend. Its poorest rating area was the condition of sealed and unsealed roads. Council officers said 60 per cent of road-related issues were for state-managed roads.

Moyne Cr Ian Smith said it was unfair council was taking a bashing for the condition of state roads.

“We have to be more positive explaining to residents what are council roads and what are VicRoads,” he said.

VicRoads south west regional director Mark Koliba wrote in The Standard last week that the region’s roads were “not up to scratch”.

“In the last financial year, the equivalent of the entire state road maintenance budget was invested in the south-west to begin to address the generational backlog of deteriorating roads,” he said. 

I am not happy to be a councillor in a shire where any road is in such poor condition as what we’re seeing.

Simon Illingworth

“Strong investment will continue, with the Victorian budget 2018/19 including a further $126 million of additional investment in the south-west. People in the south-west deserve roads they can rely on.”

Weather delays road repairs

Wet weather is delaying Corangamite Shire’s efforts to repair local roads, with some roadworks put on hold over winter.

Director of works and services Brooke Love said too much water at the wrong time could lead to potholes or surface movement that made the pavement break up.

“A reconstructed road should have a useful life of 40 years, so there’s no sense wasting time, money and resources, with only a small chance of satisfactory completion now, when we know better results can be achieved in just a few months’ time,” she said.

“Similarly, line marking is best done when the road surface is warm so for the next few months we will shift our efforts from line marking to maintaining signs instead.”

With above-average rainfall in the early May after a relatively dry spell, a number of roadworks jobs have not been completed.

Timboon Curdievale Road had 2.5km under construction and only 1.9km has been completed and sealed. A 600-metre section which became very wet during construction in early May has not dried out enough for sealing.

This section, from the bridge eastwards past Marrs Road, will be maintained as a gravel pavement and prepared for sealing in October/November, when shading provided by the adjacent trees has less impact on drying the road.

About 150 metres of the new construction on Roycrofts Road, north of Kerrs Road, also suffered from the continuous wet conditions in early May. The newly-sealed pavement has distorted and small sections have broken up. It will be maintained through the winter and likely be fixed in October or November, Mrs Love said.

A 600-metre section of Boorcan Road north of the railway line remains without the top course of pavement until the sub base material dries out. It will remain as a gravel road and will be maintained regularly until conditions allow completion.