The state’s peak motoring group says the cost of repairs needed to bring local roads on the north coast up to standard is now more than $1 billion.
The NRMA has just launched its ‘seeing red on roads’ survey.
In previous years the poll identified the Pacific Highway as the state’s most-complained about road.
But spokeswoman Wendy Machin says local roads in the region need attention as well.
“There’s a lot of focus on major roads like the Pacific Highway and rightly so, they’re important parts of the state’s road network,” she said.
“But we don’t want the state of local roads to be overlooked, and we did a recent report that showed on the north coast alone the backlog in road works is about $1.1 billion.
“That’s just to get them up to a satisfactory standard, that’s not looking at any major enhancements.
“There are a lot of councils up there struggling to cope with growing populations and growing demand.
“I think the biggest on the north coast is actually Taree, with about $1/4 billion worth of backlog in that local government area alone.”
The state’s Roads Minister is blaming Labor for the situation.
Duncan Gay says $4 billion out of a total state roads budget of $5 billion will be spent in regional areas.
He says previous state governments ignored the problem.
“We accept that there is a task to do,” Mr Gay said.
“I believe it’s akin to criminal neglect the fact that the Labor Party let the infrastructure in New South Wales, and in particular regional roads, get to the situation that it’s in.”
But Labor’s Walt Secord says the Nationals are trying to fool voters in country areas.
“They’re claiming federal money from the last Labor government, and they’re putting on the Pacific Highway in the funding,” he said.
“Now the Pacific Highway is not a little tiny country road with a timber bridge, it is a major expressway.
“So they’re taking credit for federal programs and lumping it together to claim it as rural and regional roads.”
Taree councillor Peter Epov says it is a situation that has built up over decades and federal intervention is needed.
“The NRMA reports reinforces other reports such as the report that was produced by the Australian Local Government Association last year and clearly we all know, people drive on our roads, people know that we have a rural roads crisis,” he said.
“It’s really up to the government to face up to it and to do something about it.
“The State Government can’t do this alone, it requires federal funding.”
Meanwhile, the New South Wales Minister for Local Government says there’s nearly $38 million in funding available for the improvement of the road freight network across regional areas.
Paul Toole says the ‘Fixing Country Roads’ program aims to move freight more efficiently from farms to ports and terminals.
He says with the volume of freight on country roads forecast to double over the next 20 years, councils and government must work to improve the network.
“It is important when we come to looking at where there are silos located, looking at abattoirs, looking at haulage of freight networks,” Mr Toole said.
“But it’s also going to fix up a lot of those country roads in NSW that have been asking for help for a long period of time.”
Applications for funding close on August the 4th.
Source ABC News