The Port Macquarie News surveyed readers about issues affecting their vote at the state election on March 23. Jobs and employment, a tidal pool, health, local roads and Orbital Road/Ocean Drive made the top five. Today we look at local roads.
Sue Pike would like someone to fix Telegraph Point Road.
The road used to be the Pacific Highway until the new section was opened at the end of last year.
"The RMS did advise us a large amount of money would be handed over to the council at the same time as the responsibility was handed over which was for maintenance," Ms Pike said.
In a few short months Ms Pike said the road has deteriorated.
We feel it is falling through the cracks....the council says they are not responsible for it, and it should be handled by the RMS.Sue Pike
She said the road is dangerous.
She points to branches obscuring signs, the poor condition of the road and the overgrown vegetation on the side of the road.
"When we had a major storm in January there was trees strewn all over the road, it was very, very dangerous, we worry more of these branches could come down."
A Port Macquarie Hastings Council spokesperson said the road was still a state government road, and maintained by them (including the bridges) although it is expected to transferred to the council soon.
Ms Pike commended state MP Leslie Williams for new signs on the Telegraph Point overpass but said residents have a "fair bit of cynicism about politicians" in general.
"There is a feeling we get a bit neglected by the powers that be."
She said residents were not just concerned about Telegraph Point Road.
"Rollands Plains Road, Pembroke Road, Cooperbung Drive, they all get quite a lot of heavy traffic and they get potholes and the councils have only managed to maintain them by filling the potholes."
Ms Pike is not alone in her concern about roads in the region.
A worker from Macca's Mechanical Repairs who wanted to be known as "Les" said the state of Hastings River Drive where the business is based was "a disgrace".
"It is a major road and it is in terrible shape."
I think between the state and the council they should be able to work out some sort of intelligence.Les
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council acting mayor Lisa Intemann said road maintenance shouldn't just be the council's responsibility.
"Growing populations like ours definitely need more funding assistance from the state (and federal) governments to build new assets such as roads," Cr Intemann said.
Cr Intemann said it wasn't just about the state government throwing money at the problem.
The costs of construction and regulation are exploding, but that’s beyond local control and needs state government intervention or else none of us will be able to keep up with the demands of a growing population.Lisa Intemann
Motoring organisation NRMA in February this year released its Funding Local Roads Report which found Port Macquarie-Hastings Council had an $80 million roads maintenance backlog.
The funding shortfall revealed as part of the report identifies a $2.2 billion backlog across NSW, with the overwhelming majority of the burden – $1.7 billion – falling to regional councils.
NRMA spokesperson Peter Khoury said one of the main recommendations in the report was reclassification of some major council roads like Hastings River Drive to state roads.
"We need to take the pressure off regional councils where clearly they don't have the revenue streams to meet the shortfall."
Mr Khoury commended current and former state and federal governments for fixing the Pacific Highway but said now the focus has to be local roads.
"They have done a good job of fixing some of the most dangerous roads in the country like the Pacific Highway ...now we need to do more for roads that don't get the headlines but are equally important to local communities."
What do your state political candidates think?
Drusi Megett, Greens candidate
Road maintenance is one of those problems which is always with us. The money allocated to maintenance is never enough to fix the roads to a high standard. The Greens do understand that roads must be improved e.g. double lanes on main routes. New roads must be well-planned and not destroy the environment and people’s amenity.
The Greens plan to improve local road congestion by taking the pressure off. The Greens will fund more cycle ways and improve public transport. The NSW government has neglected cycling infrastructure, spending just 1% of the state’s annual transport budget on active transport – that’s compared to the UN’s recommendation of 20%.
The Greens are calling for: $250 million per year for a cycling infrastructure fund ($1 billion over four years) and active transport infrastructure to be mandatory in all major new road and transport projects. It’s time cycling and its infrastructure was considered with the importance placed on cars and roads.
Peter Alley, Labor candidate
Last month, the NRMA’s ‘Funding Local Roads’ report found that the Regional and Local Roads network, which encompasses 80 per cent of roads in NSW, was in a state of decline and failing to properly accommodate existing passenger and freight movements. The NRMA recommended that $900m be given to councils to bring these regional roads up to standard.
Labor accepts the NRMA recommendation and will invest an additional $900 million over five years to fix regional local roads that have been rated ‘very poor’ and ‘poor’ (if elected).
A Daley Labor Government will also conduct a review of road classification with a view to reclassify some regional roads to state roads. I will be nominating the Ocean Drive/Hastings River Drive corridor for consideration. This will enable maintenance funding that would have been spent on this corridor to be shifted to other road maintenance.
Together, these two things will make a significant dent in our backlog of roads maintenance.
Leslie Williams MP, Nationals candidate
Late last month the Liberals & Nationals Government announced that if re-elected, they will invest more than $1 billion to fix local roads, repair NSW’s iconic timber bridges and reclaim up to 15,000 kilometres of council roads.
We have so many local roads that are in urgent need of maintenance and they will be prioritised under Fixing Local Roads.
This funding will take a big load off our local ratepayers and Council. We will be able to clear our local roads maintenance backlogs, replace local timber bridges in poor condition and see those local roads classified in the ‘Regional Road Network transferred back to the State and able to be upgraded quicker.
Between 2011 and 2018, the State Government has provided almost $38 million to the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council to fund local road projects in our area including the majority of the funding for Stingray Creek Bridge.
On Thursday (March 14) I committed another $50 million for the duplication of Ocean Drive (if the Coalition is re-elected).
Jan Burgess, Sustainable Australia
Local roads are an issue for most regional areas, particular in these times of increasing development and population growth.
Sustainable Australia’s policy is that infrastructure, including roads, should be built before new houses. Additional developer changes on gains made by rezoning, which is another of our policies, would assist in funding this.
Existing road problems do require additional funding and we would support any measure in State Government to increase funding available to local councils for this issue. We would also look to ensuring that all available road funding is in fact used.
Where cost shifting is occurring with roads (such as the old Pacific Highway), it is essential that additional funding is available from the State Government to cover the responsibility for additional maintenance.