Clarence Valley cuts $200m from roads funding backlog

ALMOST $200 million has been carved off the Clarence Valley's funding shortfall for local roads since last year.

The region had the second-largest backlog of any local council in New South Wales in 2015, with $224 million of outstanding and unfunded infrastructure projects.

Now that figure has dropped to just $29 million, according to the NRMA.

Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson said the reduced deficit was the result of careful planning.

"This is all about the council's response to being financially sustainable and 'fit for the future'," he said.

"However, the challenge is that we still have an under-funded road network, and funding our long-term infrastructure backlog programs needs our full attention.

"We're very much focused on finishing that last mile."

Lismore City Council went the opposite direction to the Clarence Valley, reporting an infrastructure backlog increase from $5.7 million in 2015 to $88.2 million this year.

Only Port Macquarie-Hastings Council had a bigger backlog than Lismore, with $91.3 million needed to get its local roads up to scratch.

Across the North Coast, Kyogle local roads funding had fallen $34.3 million short, Byron needed $28.5 million, Richmond Valley had a $2.7 million deficit, Ballina needed $1.5 million and Tweed was $46.4 million in arrears.

Every NSW council self-reported the numbers, with most estimating drops in their funding shortfalls since last year.

Councils this year reported repairs of about $1.7 billion, down from $3.2 billion last year on the back of strict reporting requirements under the State Government's Fit for the Future reforms, and the spectre of forced amalgamations they brought.

The positive results for most councils came on the back of the Baird Government's promise to increase grant funding for councils by 40% in the 2015-16 state budget.

The NRMA said there were 1766 deaths and 128,671 people injured on roads managed by NSW local councils between 2008 and 2014.

Those deaths and injuries cost regional communities $18 billion over the seven years.

"Roads are the single greatest safety issue confronting regional NSW," NRMA president Kyle Loades said.

"The economic impact of these accidents is also devastating. NRMA applauds the increase in money available to overburdened councils, but even if the Roads to Recovery funding announced in the Budget is maintained, the backlog would not be met until 2027.

"But this expenditure pales next to the personal and economic impact caused by inadequate roads and infrastructure."

The NRMA has called for the NSW Government to triple its Roads to Recovery funding and return a greater share of fuel excise levies to regional councils. -ARM NEWSDESK

NORTH COAST ROADS BACKLOG

  • Ballina - $1.5 million
  • Richmond Valley - $2.7 million
  • Byron - $28.5 million
  • Clarence Valley - $29 million
  • Kyogle - $34.3 million
  • Tweed - $46.4 million
  • Lismore - $88.2 million

TOTAL - $230.6 million



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