Report slams state of roads

By Country News

Victoria’s roads are underfunded and crumbling as their usage has surged, a new report has found, prompting regional bodies to call for more funding to improve safety.

The Inquiry into VicRoads Management of Country Roads interim report has called for a full inquiry into the issue, saying that while steps had been taken to improve the situation, more examination was needed.

The VFF has backed the inquiry’s suggestion.

It said regional roads funding needed to be properly examined, especially considering increased usage.

‘‘The report highlights that over the past two decades, the volume of people and freight travelling on Victoria’s country roads has increased by 20 per cent, yet funding has stalled,’’ VFF grains president Ross Johns said.

‘‘The maintenance of these roads has been completely neglected, and leading in to the 2018 state election, the VFF is asking all parties and candidates to commit the funding needed to fix our neglected country road network.’’

Although he hopes the recent appointment of VicRoads chief executive officer Kerry Thompson earlier this year and the establishment of Regional Roads Victoria will help the situation, Mr Johns said significant improvements were needed to better deliver for agriculture.

Following a $5billion funding pledge for an airport rail link from the city to Melbourne Airport, Mr Johns said he hoped to see similar funding commitments for rural and regional roads.

‘‘Victoria’s food and fibre supply chain relies on the road network to transport over $13billion worth of produce to market each year,’’ he said.

‘‘The state of regional roads threatens Victoria’s ability to remain globally competitive and it puts lives at risk every day.’’

In a submission to the committee, Rochester resident Alan Gardiner said the roads were in the worst state he’d seen them in 50 years.