A political candidate has shared his disbelief at a new report saying there is a $3.2 million backlog on roadworks in the Gunnedah area alone.
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Tamworth electorate candidate Jeff Bacon was responding to the NRMA’s Funding Local Roads report into NSW regional roads.
Mr Bacon said the roads in the North West region were years behind, and “it’s 2019, they should be tarred”.
He said Rangari Road between Manilla and Boggabri was one that needed the utmost attention.
“The worst need to be dealt with first, and Rangari Road connects two medium-size regional towns,” he said.
“The Nationals have been promising to seal roads like [this] since 2011. The community has had enough.”
An infrastructure backlog is when an asset is not performing at its best.
In terms of regional roads, this backlog refers to the roads not being up to standard.
The NRMA report said increasing roads funding to $180 million per year for five years would bring all regional NSW roads to a satisfactory level.
One-third of that in the same period would allow all regional NSW roads needing urgent renewal or upgrade to be replaced.
The NRMA identified five initiatives to help clear the backlog.
One was to re-categorise strategic roads in the regions to state roads, in order to shift funding responsibilities to the NSW government and negating the need for council funding.
Another was to increase engineering capacity by equipping joint organisations with specialist personnel to oversee upgrades.
The NRMA also suggested allocating funding from the $1.3 billion Regional Growth Fund, and the $4.2 billion Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund, to improving regional roads.
The candidate also recently expressed his concerns about a lack of standardised truck stops, and said he hoped the funding would go towards this.
“Not having rest areas anymore puts operators in the position where they have to just park anywhere.”
He said all of these issues remained because of where government funding was going.
“The cost of sealing these dirt roads and putting in standardised truck stops is a drop in the ocean compared to the rebuilding of sports stadiums in the city,” Mr Bacon said.
“People in regional areas are sick of being treated like second-class citizens, compared to their city counterparts.”
The NVI requested a comment from Nationals candidate Kevin Anderson, but he did not respond in time.