Infrastructure backlog data reveals holes in roads funding

By Helen Machalias on 24 August 2017

The NRMA today released its annual Funding Local Roads report, highlighting a $1.96 billion funding back log needed to bring NSW’s local roads up to a ‘satisfactory condition’ and renewing calls for improved funding support for local roads.

Over 80 per cent of Australia’s roads are maintained by local councils, with many struggling to fund the work. The report identifies an increased maintenance backlog across NSW councils, with a 13.2 per cent rise in the backlog deficit between 2014-15 and 2015-16.

The council to record the largest roads infrastructure backlog was Wollondilly Council with $42.5 million; Blacktown Council had the second largest, with $42.4 million; and Bankstown Council was the third largest, with $42.2 million.

In the lead-up to the Australian and NSW Budgets, the NRMA called on governments to increase funding to support this work and welcomed a $500 million commitment from the NSW Government for the Fixing Country Roads Program.

NRMA Regional Director Fiona Simson said a deteriorating road network meant longer travel times, unsafe roads and lost economic productivity. 

“Local councils have a tough job maintaining local roads, with insufficient funds to cover basic road maintenance such as fixing potholes, gutter repair and repainting faded lines,” Ms Simson said. 

The backlog is even more severe in regional NSW, with the regional council deficit rising 17.2 per cent from $1.33 billion in 2014-15 to $1.56 billion in 2015-16. 

Ms Simson said a variety of factors were behind the backlog, including population growth and increased density in regional centres placing pressure on the road network, falling council rates revenue and inadequate funding systems.

“The lack of an effective long term solution will mean a worsening NSW local and regional road network, with road safety being a significant concern,” Ms Simson said.

“Increasing local roads funding will benefit the broader community, as crashes on local roads represent 75 per cent of the $7.1 billion annual cost of crashes to the NSW economy.”

The NRMA wants a long term plan across all levels of government to support sustainable communities and safe mobility. The NRMA’s report recommendations include fast tracking the Roads to Recovery funding program, delivering a percentage share of the fuel excise levy to local councils for the purposes of road maintenance and providing local councils with low interest infrastructure and investment funds.

Download the full report here.