'Meteor'-sized pothole took out 10 cars in one weekend
A WOLLONGBAR couple have said one "meteor" sized pothole on Bruxner Hwy caused about $5000 in damage to their car.
And they are not the only ones - this particular pothole took out "at least 10 cars" needing tows within one weekend on July 1 and 2, 2017.
Michael Sawle said the pothole was about 30cm deep and 45cm long, on a stretch of roadworks last year near Tatham Rd.
The vehicle was a GT BF Falcon, which they purchased about four years ago.
"I hit the 80 zone and next minute 'bang', the whole car had come to a stop. I thought I'd hit a kangaroo," Mr Sawle said.
"I thought I ripped the front end clean off the car. It was a solid straight wall (in the pothole). When I got out the front of my car was sitting on the road.
He said council had informed him the roadworks were subcontracted out to another company.
"From the pothole it caused loss of two rims ($400 each), two tyres, four ball joints, front rack and pinion steering, steering column, a second rear left hand wheel, a rear wheel alignment and four rubbers from chewing them out and now, more than a year later, a rear disk.
"We are still having issues with the car a year later."
Mr Sawle said before taking the car to repairs, they first rang Lismore City Council with a request to pay damages, or at least insurance excess (costed at $650) for their vehicle.
The road is an RMS road maintained by council.
"Since then we've paid out an additional $5000, and now have more costs to fix this latest problem."
Mrs Sawle said they rang council on the Monday who told her to send through an email, but she "never heard anything" until months later.
"Then in December they called and said they'd only just received my email and said 'we'd been looking into it'.
It wasn't until July 6 this year the couple got a response from the council, and that was they would be unable to provide compensation for the damage and did not consider "the damage...was the result of negligence".
In a letter addressed to Mrs Sawle on July 6, 2018, council informed them the inspection and repair of roads "does not happen immediately but in accordance with its financial resources and other traffic concerns/priorities".
"Pursuant to section 42 of CLA (Civil Liability Act)...general allocation of these resources is not open to challenge".
The couple said the pothole was filled on the Monday, after they were informed by a staff member a council employee couldn't make it to work after hitting the same pothole in their car.
Now, more than a year after the incident and the couple having paid all the damages and excess are chasing council to employ a "duty of care".
"We don't want compensation we just want council to take responsibility and have more duty of care for the road users," Mrs Sawle said.
"It'd be good for the council to say 'we (screwed) up and sorry' instead of saying 'take us to court' which is what the last response we got."
Mr Sawle said there's a hotline to ring for potholes or other issues with the road, "but nobody is there to answer it".
"I can understand council are closed over the weekend but why do you provide a number for somebody to ring and say 'there's a big pothole on the road' but nobody is there to answer the phone until Monday morning - when it's too late."
"Council should take more responsibility for things that happen."
Council's Civic Services Manager Darren Patch said while they have every sympathy in these circumstances, it was "ultimately the responsibility of every driver to drive according to the road conditions and keep a proper lookout for surface defects, road debris, water and ice, animals and the like".
"The stark reality is that the state of our road network is a legacy of many successive councils and we would need approximately $70 million to completely repair the network, which is money council simply does not have," Mr Patch said.
"In the last few years we have changed our methodology toward fixing roads and we now look strategically at where we can fix roads before they fall into disrepair, ensuring they remain waterproof and in good condition. This approach gets the most life out of every road.
"We also have in place procedures to inspect and repair our road network for potholes, which is an ongoing process. We conduct repairs as soon as possible when a defect is reported by one of our inspectors or the general public.
"While we understand the frustration drivers have with a road network that is less than perfect, we have maintenance and reseal program strategies in place to provide the best possible service we can with the resources at our disposal. We urge drivers to always drive to local conditions as they can vary throughout the road network from one day to the next."
RMS has been contacted for comment.