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Conargo shoulders heavy road burden

Conargo Shire Council plan to apply for the NSW Government - Local Roads and Bridges program, but say funding available is still well short of the mark.

ZOE MCMAUGH July 15, 2014 3:35am

A $35.7 million funding pool to fix country roads is a step in the right direction but still well short of the mark, according to Conargo Shire Council.

Acting general manager Michael Todd said council would ‘‘definitely’’ be applying for the NSW Government - Local Roads and Bridges program, saying the shire’s regional roads are in particular need of attention.

In the meantime, Mr Todd has called on both the NSW and federal governments to make more roads funding available.

‘‘New South Wales councils have very developed detailed asset management plans which indicate a huge infrastructure backlog,’’ Mr Todd said.

‘‘The NSW Government has noticed that and Conargo will actively be seeking some of that funding, but the pool of funding for us is really not that big.

‘‘Conargo Shire receives an annual amount of just more than $1.3 million for the repair and maintenance and upgrading of our regional network which is approximately 170 kilometres, but it takes an average of $200,000 to fix just one kilometre of road.

‘‘We recently upgraded a stretch about 1.5km long and it cost $375,400.

‘‘When we do roadworks it can’t just be a replacement, we have to improve the standard to better accommodate the growing number of road trains using regional roads.

‘‘The cost is increased because we have poor materials locally, so we have to cart material in from quarries, and stabilisation works are required.’’

Mr Todd said of the shire’s regional roads, links to Moulamein were particularly bad.

‘‘Between Moulamein and Maude and Pretty Pine and Moulamein there is a lot of work to do,’’ he said.

‘‘They are roads that are handling the bigger road trains and when it’s wet they often fail.

‘‘We are currently spending $100,000 on shoulder patching so we can try and hold the life of the road, but it’s a constant burden.’’

The Fixing Country Roads program is part of the government’s Restart NSW initiative targeted at improving local roads, connecting towns and unlocking economic potential.

It is designed to help roads accommodate a predicted doubled volume of freight over the next 20 years.

More than 100 councils are eligible to apply, with an expressions of interest period for councils now open.

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