Road bill blows out

The road to the Sawtell Headland lookout, above Bonville Creek, popular with tourists.
The road to the Sawtell Headland lookout, above Bonville Creek, popular with tourists. BRUCE THOMAS

DURING the time Coffs Harbour has spent $10 million on its roads, the city’s road repair bill has increased by $22 million to a staggering total of $43 million.

The figures, which will be considered by Coffs Harbour City councillors at tomorrow’s meeting, show that the city’s engineering staff will be pushing a barrow up a steep hill in the years ahead, with roads deteriorating faster than they can be replaced.

The council has 77km of sealed roads needing renewal, out of a total length of 704km, an increase of 46km in the past three years.

There are also 76km of unsealed roads in need of renewal out of a total of 120km, an increase of 21km in three years.

The Asset Management Plan update to be presented to the councillors concludes that it is cheaper to renew deteriorated assets than continue trying to maintain them, a sentiment which will draw hearty agreement from local motorists muttering about some local roads which are being described as patchwork quilts of pothole repairs.

Coffs Harbour City Council’s director of city services, Ben Lawson, said the road to Sawtell Headland was one of the roads with a high priority for renewal.

“The performance and deterioration of these roads is regularly monitored – works staff know which will fall apart after rain,” Mr Lawson said.

“Modelling carried out by the council’s consultant indicates that within five years the costs to maintain an aging road network will exceed the cost to renew it.

“Within 10 years it will cost an additional $4.4 million a year to maintain these aging roads, trying to deliver a reasonable level of service.

“The aging seals are of major concern, as deterioration will accelerate.

“The key issue is minimising life cycle costs via timely renewal.”

The city has 100km of sealed roads which are now deemed to be in very poor or unserviceable condition.

The next stop for the engineers is to work out options for strategies to preserve the road network and present these options to the councillors, balancing service levels against costs, as part of the service review.

Topics:  coffs harbour cost road repairs

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