ROAD users have vented their anger and frustration with the state of the roads, the VicRoads-managed South Gippsland Highway in particular, in a damning response to the Repairing Our Roads survey.
South Gippsland Shire Council will now send a copy of the survey results to the Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South, Peter Ryan.
A preliminary summary of the survey, which was run by Council over the summer, has already been provided to Mr Ryan and VicRoads, and at their meeting last Wednesday, Council acknowledged the support the Deputy Premier has provided already in the form of an additional $1 million funding through the Country Roads and Bridges Program for council road infrastructure and $4.33 million for pavement strengthening and road resurfacing works for the State Road Network.
“This is an example of the power of the common person evoking an outcome,” said Cr Andrew McEwen. He insisted, however, that much more needs to be done and said that Council would, with the assistance of the community, continue with its advocacy.
Council ran the online survey as part of a campaign to draw more attention to the condition of South Gippsland roads and to seek urgent funding to restore them to a safe and acceptable level. Business and tourism associations and local transport and manufacturing businesses have been only too happy to write letters of support.
Peter Watchorn wrote on behalf of the Leongatha Chamber of Commerce and Industry, “The ongoing state of disrepair of our region’s roads genuinely has a continued economic impact for local business, the real cost being that our region has become known far and wide for the ongoing state of disrepair of our roads and a true disbelief that our roads continue to stay in a state of disrepair.”
Stuart Evans from Evans Petroleum wrote, “It is no secret that our local highways are in an atrocious condition with patched up holes and uneven surface a very common sight for our drivers to endure…The major concern that we have with the state of our roads is the fuel products that we carry which have the potential to cause a massive incident should an accident occur.”
“Our local economy depends totally on our highways,” wrote the secretary of the Foster Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Lloyd Morcom. “Our very lives depend on the safety of these highways. Yet it has come to the point where driving anytime, especially at night, has become a tense and risky business due to their dangerous state.”
Philip Botte, Chair of Prom Country Regional Tourism, said that PCRT had received complaints from visitors (and local businesses) about the unsatisfactory condition of our road network. “Many of these complaints have been in relation to safety concerns,” he said.
Alex Moon from Moon’s Buslines added his safety concerns, saying: “I would hope that a maintenance program for the roads is put in place, not for the benefit of cost saving, for the safety of families in our local area. I would not like a fatal accident involving children to be the catalyst for something to be done.”
The survey attracted 846 responses, with the overwhelming majority of those surveyed (95 per cent) rating the condition of sealed roads in South Gippsland as poor or below average, and 51.3 per cent rating the condition of the roads at the lowest level of 1 (Poor).
Potholes, major patching and reconstruction/rehabilitation of roads are the three areas of highest priority, according to survey respondents.
Over 82 per cent of the 706 people who responded to the question indicated they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the quality of the repairs completed so far, while 72.1 per cent out of 706 respondents claimed to have sustained damage (the average cost of repairs was between $100 and $500) to their vehicle as a direct result of the condition of the road on which they were driving. Of 474 responses, 89 per cent claimed to have sustained vehicle damage on VicRoads managed roads, 8 per cent on Council managed roads, and 3 per cent on roads unidentified or not in South Gippsland. The South Gippsland Highway was named as the culprit in the vast majority of cases – 277. Other roads mentioned included the Bass Highway (63), Meeniyan-Promontory Road (45) and Strzelecki Highway (24).
The South Gippsland Highway, stated 430 respondents (out of the 623 who answered the question), requires the most urgent attention, with 120 mentioning the Meeniyan-Promontory Road and the same number the Bass Highway. Of the responses, 79 per cent of the roads listed were managed by VicRoads and 14 per cent by Council. The remaining roads were unidentified or not in South Gippsland.
A copy of the survey summary, including the council roads identified as in need of repair, has been given to Council’s engineering department and the repairs will be addressed through Council’s road maintenance program.
The Deputy Premier will shortly have a copy of the survey, too, complete with 218 comments from angry road users. In this election year the Member for Gippsland South will be left in no doubt as to how much his constituents want the state government to repair our roads.