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Byron Shire
May 18, 2021

Byron council has a new quick-fix solution for potholes

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Massive, spontaneous potholes like this one are a common occurrence in Byron Bay’s Sunrise. Some residents claim they are sinkholes. Photo supplied

The number one complaint from Byron shire residents is the quality of their roads but the council believes it has come up with a quick-fix solution.

The council has a new patrol truck fitted with a range of equipment to do minor repairs and make the road safe until it can be properly fixed.

The ‘Road Patrol Service’ will allow for a faster response to fixing potholes and other problems on the roads until the road maintenance crew arrives to fix them properly.

Council’s general manager Ken Gainger said while the road repairs would only be temporary, ‘at least the hole in the road is rendered safe to drive on’.

‘I expect the team that operates out of the patrol truck will be our ‘eyes’ on the shire’s roads and staff will be responsible for spotting problems, and either fixing them immediately and/or logging and reporting them so proper maintenance can be carried out,’ Mr Gainger said.

‘In all of the feedback the community gives us the poor quality of our road network is the number one concern and this is a new initiative that will show our residents that we are hearing them and doing our best to make things better.

‘This is a proactive solution that will significantly improve the timeliness of repairs and improvements to drainage and signage,’ Mr Gainger said.

The Road Patrol vehicle will also have a lot of other equipment on board and this means staff can undertake a wide range of ‘smaller’ jobs that they spot whilst driving around the Shire.

‘It might be as simple as stopping to prune vegetation that is growing over a sign or cleaning graffiti.

‘I am most proud of the effort council has made in the last several years to address a backlog in infrastructure funding and this year (2017/18) we will spend $40 million on infrastructure.

‘This is up from $3.7 million in 2012/13 and whilst I admit Byron Shire Council still has a long way to go, we have certainly made significant improvements,’ Mr Gainger said.

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  1. Part of the Pocket road is so bad and narrow, filling the holes is not enough. It needs a complete renewal to be wider, smoother, and much safer. I bet there are others the same. Thanks for doing something but you will have to do a lot more.
    And by the way, removing 30 car parks at Wategoes for tourists walking that don’t pay taxes is an attack on those who live here and pay taxes.
    And no income from 30 car parks removes income to pay for road repair. This was done without notice.

    Who is responsible for such gross stupidity? Some of us had parked there for over 50 years and pay taxes..no thanks Council. You have a walkway next to the Pass..why not here, save parking, and have income for road repair as we were told you would do?? Secret deception and loss is not good enough thanks. In case Council wonders why they are not trusted.

  2. Cheap insults don’t fill potholes.
    The primary fault that we have potholes in Byron Shire, which has been an ongoing problem for over a decade, is that we have a tiny rate base (14,000 ratepayers), and currently almost two and a quarter million tourists per year.
    The New South Wales’ incompetent state government, through its tourism department, Destination New South Wales, endlessly promotes our Shire, yet provides no revenue to maintain the huge costs that our massive tourist population which is passed on to local ratepayers.
    Not just the cost that comes with heavy vehicles that bring the tourists here, plus the food and other items they buy in supermarkets, upkeep of the parks, garbage disposal, toilets etc.
    The answer is clearly what they do in Europe and increasingly North Central and South America: the introduction of a bed tax whereby local small communities receive money from people who stay here.
    After many years of begging Mayor Simon Richardson to campaign for a bed tax, he has finally done so. Well done Simon. And he has engaged other councils like ours suffering from the same problem.
    But only state governments can create a bed tax which is why Simon has gone and formed a national body of local governments to campaign for a bed tax.
    Aside from rates and charges local government has no power. Local government is not even recognised within the Australian Constitution. We are just a subset of the state government. Which is why any development application costing over $20 million automatically goes to the state government rather than our local council for approval. Which the state government invariably approves. But that’s another sad story.
    Jim Beatson, ByronBay

    • Well said!

      The demonising and defunding of local government is a state government objective. While we whinge about potholes and parking meters to councils with no money the developers do whatever they like.

      The $20M rubber stamp rort should be the big issue. We currently have NO SAY over anything above $20M in value. Thats the stuff that changes the fabric of where we live. The council we elect in this false democracy cant do a thing.

      Can the Echo please run some coverage of the regional planning panel process and what a disgrace it is?

      How are we in the position where we have a panel of people elected by locals (ie local government) that doesnt have any say on big changes to the local area, but instead we give all of these decisions to an unelected and unaccountable panel of experts appointed by the state government?! More importantly, how is this acceptable to the average person?

    • Byron and Tweed both have this problem.
      Jim Beatson nailed the cause of the problem, but the truth is that it is going to be pretty difficult to make a bed tax happen, and to enforce it. These are paradigm shifts by state govt, and for them to happen, they need to be motivated.

      A simple mobile app could be the answer – let me paint you a picture…

      Scenario: You are driving along the road and smash into a pothole, or narrowly miss one. You pull over and launch the app, where you estimate the size and rate the potential danger of the pothole (from 1 to 10) and the app gets its location. The whole thing takes maybe 10 seconds and you are back on the road again. Meanwhile the app (configured with email address details of local council) fires off an automated email (from you) reporting the pothole, giving its approximate location, size and danger level. Council is going to get a lot of emails from a lot of folks. Great! It will spur them to action.

      By the way, in the email is a link, that invites council to click on once the pothole has been repaired. This points to a website that records it as repaired.

      But how to solve the underlying problem?

      Scenario 2: Over time, the servers that power the app build up a huge database of potholes all over the region, including whether they were repaired, and if so how long they took to be repaired. Based on the size and rating of each pothole, it is possible to estimate costs. You can overlay rainfall (because it matters to potholes). You can see where they tend to appear. You can see the trends of what time of year they appear. There can even be a cost calculator! I envisage this on a website somewhere with all this data available publicly.
      And so the game changes… Now you have numbers! Fact and figures are hard to argue with. Now the people who wish to make a case have some hard evidence. They can point to the how spikes on pothole occurrence follow peak holiday periods!

      Impassioned pleas might just do it, but I have to say I can’t help thinking that if you want to sway a government (who seems not to care) then HARD DATA is going to be the way.


    • Actually, the reason we have so many pot holes is because there are insufficient funds to build the roads to a higher standard.
      Here we put 15 or 20mm of tarmac over the brown road base because it is cheap. I’ve seen residential roads / minor main roads on the Gold Coast being laid with 150 – 200mm of tarmac.
      The tarmac is supposed to seal the road from water ingress. The road base is pretty much impervious to water and a thin layer of tarmac is liable to allow water to seep down to the road base where it can go no further.
      The water is trapped between road base and tarmac and is compressed by traffic resulting in a hydraulic action that blows out a pot hole. Have you noticed how pot holes usually appear after rain.

      Tarmac comes in various grades too. Bigger stones and less tar is cheaper than smaller stones and more tar. The smaller stones and more tar version seals against water better.

  3. Can’t argue with Jin Beatson as to the underlying reasons for pot holes – they are as he points out, twofold. Past neglect and ongoing overuse. The overuse issue has its own complexities as the roads in and close by Byron would be getting the most use and therefore more remedial cash than the rest of the Shire. So the outlying roads that used to get some treatment would now be getting less than ever. Bed Tax would work but let’s hope the State Government don’t introduce a pot hole tax or we are sunk (pun intended).

  4. I agree with Jerry, the Pocket Road is atrocious. There’s a small stretch about 3-4 kms long that I have to literally tip-toe over as I fear for the suspension in my car, as well as the tyres…. I’ve had 3 punctures in the last 6 months from sharp stones and edges, not from driving at any kind of speed.
    The road is a patchwork quilt of pothole repairs, all at different levels, it’s like driving across the Giant’s Causeway!

    This road is actually signposted at Main Arm as being the best way to the Highway!!

    No quick fix van can sort that out, it needs a total resurfacing…. when is that going to happen?….

  5. If council needs a new way to raise $’s , the. how about a tourist toll gate at new hospital area on Ewingsdale rd and on bangalow road and Red Devil park.

    Residents local businesses exempt.

    $x.00 per vehicle / 24 hr period.
    Or however much you think is reasonable.

    Collects via to E tag.

    • Why exempt locals – their vehicles do as much damage to the roads as vistor’s. And should the Ballina and Lismore Council impose a toll only from Byron residents who drive to shop and indulge furtive fast food in neighbouring LGAs? The Byron Shire is not the only tourist destination in Australia and others cope without bed taxes and tolls – they give priority to fixing the roads before they damaged and are far more expensive too fix.

  6. From a forgotten part of the shire Nashua ! Where lismore and ballina also meet have to say their roads are perfect our Byron shire roads an embarrassment! Booyong and Tooheys mill are another patchwork quilt of of potholes joined together – rip our cars apart too narrow to dodge cars and potholes at the same time let alone semis bringing in farming supplies and livestock to meatworks.
    One of many unhappy residents.

    Previous comment seriously why not, everywhere does it why should all the forgotten areas pay for central Byron to be so fancy whilst we are referred to as third world !


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