Everyone loves to complain about roads, but we should give credit where due. Council has recently picked up two road maintenance awards in quick succession – the first for innovative recycling of road materials, and last week an award for sealed road maintenance.
I’m especially pleased with last week’s award because it recognises work that came out of a councillor-driven initiative in 2013. First, council engaged the Australian Roads Research Board to review council’s practices in road works, as an objective assessment of local performance. It showed council was doing fairly well overall, especially its systematic, rather than ad hoc, approach to repairs. But it also identified specific improvements which we have begun.
Then Cr Mike Cusato and I, as the Roads and Infrastructure portfolio members, asked staff to give attention not only to high traffic roads, but low traffic residential streets too. Until then, low-traffic streets were patched as needed but given no routine rejuvenation.
That was expensive, with patch teams often travelling long distances between sites to conduct repairs, and there was no time when residents could look forward to having smooth residential roads to drive on.
Council responded with a ‘geographical’ program, first trialled in Bonny Hills in 2014/15, whereby all the residential roads in the area were repaired and resealed at once.
The program has since been run out in Lake Cathie, Laurieton, North Haven and West Haven and parts of Wauchope. It means the treated area should not need significant repairs or reseal for about 12 years, greatly reducing the cost of repairs and providing a much better road surface.
Council is now able to reseal more roads at reduced cost - a great outcome in savings and delivery and a credit to the partnership between councillors and staff. Incidentally, council will spend $35 million on transport infrastructure maintenance this year.