Does south-west Victoria have the worst roads?

Glenelg Shire Council and Corangamite Shire have run strong campaigns highlighting how bad state maintained roads are within their communities. This series of videos provides graphic evidence of the scale of the problem.


RACV commissioned an independent expert to determine the condition of the network and whether it was getting better or worse, based upon ten years of VicRoads data. Data published in the State Budget Papers has indicated that the condition of the network is relatively stable, but evidence provided by Councils and in social media campaigns (warning: strong language and graphic content) suggests otherwise.

What was assessed?

The assessment considered ten years of road condition data about roughness, rutting, surface texture and cracking, which was supplied by VicRoads. Data for half the roads in the network is collected each year; i.e. the complete network is collected every second year. The data is also only collected for one direction of travel on each road.

In particular, the data for roughness and rutting has the most obvious impact on road users.

Roughness on roads in South-West Victoria

What did we find in South-West Victoria?

Roughness on roads in South-West Victoria, based upon analysis of data supplied by VicRoads

Roughness on roads in South-West Victoria, based upon analysis of data supplied by VicRoads

Roughness is the ‘bumpiness’ of a trip along a road, which considers the overall shape of the road.

Nine percent of roads in South-West Victoria were found to be in poor or very-poor condition, and over 11% in a fair condition.

When the data is broken down by the type of road, a different story emerges. The analysis considered A, B, C roads. For example, the A1 Princes Highway is an ‘A’ road, the B140 Hamilton Highway is a ‘B’ road and C192 Portland-Nelson Road is a ‘C’ Road.

The analysis found that the lower the class of road, the more likely the road will be in poor or very poor condition.

Roughness based on A, B and C roads in South-West Victoria
Rutting on roads in South-West Victoria

Generally, a ‘C’ road will carry less traffic and be built to a lower standard than an ‘A’ road. When there is a shortfall in funding, it might receive less maintenance. A lower standard and less maintenance can result in rougher roads.

The analysis also considered rutting – the longitudinal trenches in roads where the wheels track. Our inspections of roads in the South-West suggest that this is a common type of road failure.

Our analysis found nearly 10% of roads in the South-West are poor or very poor, in terms of rutting. 18% are in fair condition.

When the class of the road is considered, the busier A-roads are again in a better condition, and lower traffic volume B and C roads quite similar.

Rutting on A, B and C roads in South-West Victoria


Comparing to the previous analysis, it shows that in the South-West, rutting is more of a problem than roughness. This can be a serious safety issue because water can pond in the ruts along the road, affecting the braking performance of vehicles.

The independent analysis found that roads in the South-West are the worst in the State. RACV has calculated that the South-West has about 600 kilometres of distressed roads that will cost about $486 million to repair. That means that over one term of government, RACV estimates that about $120 million a year will be needed to fix distressed roads in South-West Victoria alone.
Find out more

Check out our other posts about road maintenance in Victoria, including data comparing regions of the State.

Written by Dave Jones, Roads and Traffic Manager
December 05, 2016