A pot-holed Noakes Rd after rain. Across Australia the ALGA has identified a $30 billion backlog in replacing and renewing council assets in poor condition.
A pot-holed Noakes Rd after rain. Across Australia the ALGA has identified a $30 billion backlog in replacing and renewing council assets in poor condition.

Gympie’s worst roads part of national $30 billion backlog

GYMPIE region motorists, particularly those living in rural areas using dirt roads, are feeling the direct impacts of a $30 billion backlog of local government infrastructure funding in Australia.

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The Australian Local Government Association is partnering with the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia to address the backlog and hopefully upgrade some of the region’s worst dirt roads.

Mayor Glen Hartwig said his council had already identified that it was well behind in its maintenance and was looking at all options to start the long road back to appropriate maintenance levels.

“Any assistance from state or federal governments would be welcomed with open arms,” Mr Hartwig said.

“ALGAs efforts to raise awareness of the needs of local government is something that I support.”

The ALGA and Institute will work together with local councils to produce the “National State of the Assets” report providing detailed and informed analysis of local council-owned assets.

The last NSoA report put the cost of renewing and replacing roads, bridges, stormwater drainage, water supply, waste-water treatment plants, parks, and buildings classified as being in poor and very poor condition at $30 billion and continuing to grow as governments seek productivity and safety improvements.

“Renewing creaky timber bridges, rutted tracks, corrugations, road pavements so thin you can see the rocks through them, ticking rust-bombs hidden in underground pipes, cracked buildings and access ramps so steep only a four wheel drive can manage them – they all constitute job-ready projects to improve local communities,” ALGA President David O’Loughlin said today.

“Local councils own 75 percent of the nation’s road length, and 33 percent of the nation’s non-financial assets. It’s a near-impossible task to maintain when we only collect around 3.6 percent of the nation’s taxes.”

FED UP: Drone photos show Steve Turner, Sean Barrett, Jim Clayden, Peter Wason, Neville Turner, Les Brown, Linda Fallon, Felicity Rockemer, Barbara Logan and Councillor Hilary Smerdon wants the 6km of Brooweena Woolooga Road to be fixed up and concreted. Photo: Philippe Coquerand
FED UP: Drone photos show Steve Turner, Sean Barrett, Jim Clayden, Peter Wason, Neville Turner, Les Brown, Linda Fallon, Felicity Rockemer, Barbara Logan and Councillor Hilary Smerdon wants the 6km of Brooweena Woolooga Road to be fixed up and concreted. Photo: Philippe Coquerand

ALGA established its National State of the Assets project in 2012 to improve the performance and management of the $345 billion of infrastructure owned and operated by Australia’s 537 councils. The first NSoA report was published in 2013.

“We’re pleased to have IPWEA as a partner in our ongoing efforts to assess our roads, bridges, and other community infrastructure and to ensure they are fit for purpose and our limited funds are targeted as efficiently as possible,” Mayor O’Loughlin said.

IPWEA President Rita Excell said: “We are delighted to be working with ALGA on the State of the Assets project.

“Information from the assessments will drive more informed discussions on infrastructure investments, and that will not only deliver efficiencies but, ultimately, better infrastructure for communities around Australia.”

The 2018 NSoA Report, based on the responses of more than 400 councils, found that 63 percent of infrastructure assets was rated as being in good condition, while 9 percent was rated as poor. The remaining 28 percent was rated as fair.

The report stated that local government was at the beginning of a period of renewing infrastructure built during the 1960s and 1970s, when cities were expanding rapidly.

Pot holes on Sorenson Road Gympie
Pot holes on Sorenson Road Gympie

While there had been a steady increase in spending since 2005, the report said the proportion of infrastructure rated as being in a good condition was falling, indicating that a major renewal phase would be required over the next two decades.

“A significant and growing amount of our infrastructure inventory is nearing the end of its lifecycle,” Mayor O’Loughlin said.

“So, it’s essential to collate the very best facts and analysis to guide spending our scarce dollars and hard-won federal government funding.

“ALGA’s partnership with IPWEA on the National Sate of the Assets project will help drive this undertaking,” Mayor O’Loughlin said.

Quotes attributable to ALGA President David O’Loughlin:

“Every dollar is hard to get and we want to spend it in exactly the right place, so this report will provide vital information for councils to prioritise their spending and for ALGA to target our advocacy at the national level to zero in on the asset class in most need.”

“For example, if national freight productivity is the goal, the previous NSoA report estimated that $24 billion of current infrastructure is under-width or under-strength to support higher freight efficiencies, especially timber bridges, and will cost $120 billion to upgrade.”

“We hope the ALGA-IPWEA partnership encourages more councils get involved in the next NSoA report. The more data we have on the state of our infrastructure, the more compelling is our case for renewal or replacement.”

“We are incredibly grateful for the Federal Assistance Grants, Roads to Recovery, Bridges Renewal, Blackspot and recent stimulus funding we receive from the Federal government, and to smaller assistance packages from State and Territory Governments. However, these grants total less than 10 percent of our annual operating expenditure, and a fraction of our $7.5 billion capital spend each year.”

Gympie Times


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