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Byron Shire
May 14, 2021

Potholes persist

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The condition of many of the roads in the shire is rapidly deteriorating. The reason for this is a combination of increasing wet weather, the increase in traffic and, in particular, commercial vehicles and the fact that many of the roads were under-designed in the first place.

Council does not have the funds to replace many lengths of road that have structurally failed. With the current rate of potholes developing, Council requires at least two trucks and the necessary labour and materials to repair the potholes quickly and prevent further deterioration in the road pavement. Unfortunately Council only has a budget for one truck.

It is incomprehensible to me that in these fairly affluent times we are unable to maintain our road infrastructure. I have had it on good advice that $50 million is required to rebuild the section of roads that has structurally failed. Until a funding source can be developed by the state government, Council should delay building any other facilities in the shire such as sports fields and libraries. The Byron community sports field on Ewingsdale Road have proved to be more expensive than budgeted for, are not usable for much of the time because of drainage, and the need is questionable.

The severe potholing is causing excessive tyre wear through misalignment and punctures and this is a financial burden for all road users. It also increases the risk of head-on collisions as a result of drivers trying to avoid the potholes.

Roads, like all assets, require ongoing maintenance and replacement. Recent higher-than-normal rainfall and the fairly rapid growth in population has increased the need for maintenance. Byron Shire Council for many years has failed to maintain its roads and this means that funds need to be injected now in order to bring the roads back to a safe standard. If this is not done soon many lengths of road will revert to being unsealed.

I therefore urge Council in the short term to hire a second gang to repair potholes until this work is finished. This may require a deferment of other capital expenditure in the shire. Secondly, Council and state government should explore ways of funding the replacement of the lengths of road that have structurally failed. There may be an opportunity of using superannuation funds to at least provide loans. The only problem with loans is that they attract interest and have to eventually be paid back. The higher-than-normal rainfall that has been experienced in recent years, although not a national disaster, has caused much of the damage to the roads.

I hope that this letter does not fall on deaf ears because the problem will not go away and the cost to reinstate will rise exponentially with an accompanying risk to life.

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