Smoother road ahead for councils
THE NSW Government has acknowledged councils have far too little money to maintain their local roads.
But it says help is on the way.
Roads Minister Duncan Gay told a budget estimates hearing that grant funding for local governments would increase by 40% under the 2015-16 budget.
“I don’t have a great argument with councils. I accept that they’re doing it tough in their funding and their management,” he said.
“Some could argue that some of their internal management could be better, but that’s different to this.”
Mr Gay said the response from councils to the government’s plan to fund local road projects had been “terrific”.
“We’re putting (all funding) through a body where I don’t get the final say, so I can’t pork barrel this money,” he said.
An NRMA report in May revealed councils on the north and mid-north coasts had a $948 million backlog of road repairs and upgrades – the biggest build-up of unfunded roadworks in the state.
The figure was almost one-third of the $3.2 billion shortfall across NSW, despite the regions making up only about one-13th of the state’s population.
Mr Gay said work was underway to design cheap, pre-fabricated six-metre bridges that could be manufactured at a very low price and delivered to councils that wanted to address ramshackle waterway crossings.
He said the government’s Bridges to the Bush program had led to work beginning on five priority bridges.