Councils' road repair backlog totals $948 million
COUNCILS on the North and Mid-North Coasts have a $948 million backlog of road repairs and upgrades, a new National Roads and Motorists' Association report has revealed.
It is the biggest build-up of unfunded roadworks in New South Wales - almost one-third of the state's $3.2 billion shortfall, despite being home to only about one-13th of the NSW population.
Lismore City Council is in a better position than many of its neighbours, with $5.1 million worth of works waiting for funding.
Port Macquarie Hastings has a $225.1 million bill - the greatest of any single NSW council - followed by Clarence Valley with a $224 million deficit.
Byron has $22.3 million worth of unfunded works on its books, while Tweed is waiting for $39.2 million in financial support from the State and Federal Governments.
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell said roads funding was notoriously hard to come by, despite it taking up a third of her council's annual budget.
She said the council hoped the region would be declared a natural disaster area to get funding for about $1.1 million to repair roads damaged in the recent floods.
"I'm not surprised about any council on the North Coast having that backlog," Cr Dowell said.
"We spend a third of our income every year on our roads - well over $33 million.
"But it is never enough, and it's the biggest area that our community says we need to better at.
"Most councils throughout the country are saying they would like to see a percentage of growth tax, such as the GST, coming to local government."
NRMA director Wendy Machin called for a greater contribution from the fuel excise to help all regional and local councils fund roads.
Only about $6 billion of the $15 billion the excise raised last year was spent on the nation's roads.
"The story of roads in this area does not end with the Pacific Hwy," Ms Machin said.
"In addition to local traffic, the local roads of the North and Mid-North coast are used by hundreds of thousands of visitors."
The report said 1480 people were killed and 100,413 injured on roads managed by NSW regional councils between 2008 and 2013.
The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics estimated each fatality cost $3.3 million.
Serious injuries cost $333,045 and non-serious injuries $18,405.
- APN NEWSDESK