Craig Warhurst

Urgent road action needed

WET weather and red tape have conspired to cause a road maintenance crisis across the Gympie Region, with councillors and senior staff admitting yesterday that they are not keeping up.

Sealed roads throughout the region are peeling, sinking and eroding faster than council can fix them and safety regulations have massively increased the costs of routine maintenance on gravel roads.

Mayor Ron Dyne said a forecast wet summer would mean no relief for budgets, workers and drivers.

Yesterday’s council general meeting authorised a budget rethink to allow urgent spending to boost council’s road repair truck fleet and smooth out the problems.

In a plea for cash, council engineering director Bob Fredman said the wet winter had caused road surfaces to peel.

“We’ve been hiring extra machinery (but) we’re in a position where we’re not keeping up,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Tony Perrett endorsed the call for urgent roads action and supported Mr Fredman’s advice that the condition of regional roads was a big issue with many people.

“We can’t let our roads deteriorate any more than they have,” he said.

“We hear it from people often.”

The comments followed those of Works Committee chairman Larry Friske on Tuesday that gravel road maintenance was inhibited by sometimes overdone health and safety requirements.

“A $200 grading job can require $700 for traffic controllers,” he said.

Mr Fredman told yesterday’s meeting he was seeking an urgent $45,000 for extra machinery.

“A lot of our standard 30mm to 40mm overlays are peeling off.

“If we are to provide improved response times to significant areas of failure, we require another machine.

“Currently we have the labour resources available and some $30,000 in the plant vote, with more that could be made available if we were to hold over the sale of some of the motor vehicle fleet.

“We have no budget for a new machine to deal with this problem, which has come up on us rather quickly,” he said.

“Council’s road network is ageing and with the wet season this year, patching resources have not matched the needs.”

He said council had hired specialised Flocon road maintenance trucks, but hired machines were not readily available or cost effective.

“As the network grows and ages our needs will continue to increase.”

The Flocon units are specially fitted trucks, with inbuilt conveyor systems to move material to the rear discharge area of the truck.

Gympie Times

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