An RACV commissioned independent expert review of the condition of Victoria’s road network has found that the network is grossly underfunded and a record amount of roads and highways are in a distressed condition. Some are unsafe for travel at the usual speed limit, and have had much lower limits permanently sign posted instead of the roads themselves being fixed.
In 2008, a Victorian Auditor General’s report highlighted many of the deficiencies in funding and it forecast continuing problems. RACV’s review found that the issues remained and the condition of the State’s roads has worsened.
RACV’s review found that while there has been some increase in funding in some years, the overall degradation of the rural network continued because the funding wasn’t enough. On average seven per cent of the regional road network across Victoria is in what VicRoads would deem to be a ‘distressed’ condition.
Although seven percent doesn’t sound like much, it equates to around 1,500 km of the state’s highways being distressed to the level that safety warnings and speed reductions are often necessary.
Proportion of distressed roads in urban and rural areas, 2011/12 to 2015/16.
Within some areas like Corangamite Shire, the Shire has found that 18% of the State maintained roads are distressed. RACV estimates that with some areas being better and some worse, it is reasonable to assume 15% of the network in the South-West region that extends from Geelong to Portland and the South Australian border is in a distressed condition.
With an estimated average of 15% for the region, that is 600 kilometres of state highway around Portland, Hamilton, Warrnambool and Camperdown that is under par, including major highways such as Princes Highway, Hamilton Highway, Henty Highway and the Glenelg Highway.
Old and poorly maintained roads and drains allow water into the road pavement; compromising their strength and capacity to safely support the heavy truck traffic that is the life-blood of regional Victoria.
Rough and failing roads lead to much higher wear and tear on trucks and cars; are hazardous to vehicles, motorbike and bicycle riders and increase the cost of business for struggling families in our regional communities.
RACV believes that ongoing road funding maintenance is woefully inadequate. We estimate that the strengthening of 1,500 kilometres of distressed roads across regional Victoria will cost $1.2 billion. That will be $300 million a year, for four years – and it won’t slow down the deterioration of other roads. Highways must be strengthened and resurfaced so they are strong, safe and durable into the future.
That’s a lot of money – but failing to do anything will see the repair bill grow and the cost to people living in and travelling through country Victoria increase.