17 May 2023

Griffith vigilante spray-paints pothole protest as extra funds pledged for council road repairs

| Oliver Jacques
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spray-painted pothole

This vandalised site in Griffith is one of several examples of what’s been called “pothole vigilantism” in the town. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

The new NSW Labor Government has pledged to increase funding for regional councils to fix their roads, announcing it will allocate $390 million via the Transport for NSW Regional and Local Road Repair Program – $110m more than the $280m pledged by the former Coalition government just before the state election.

The news comes as an anonymous Griffith resident has taken matters into their own hands, spray-painting a pothole on Bonegilla Road, next to Woolworths, putting a big circle around it and writing the words “fix me”, in an attempt the prompt the council to repair the road.

It’s yet another incident of what’s been called “pothole vigilantism” in the town. In 2021, former council worker the late Michael Crump painted yellow marks on damaged parts of Yambil Street. While the council filled the holes he highlighted, he was also taken to court and charged for his actions.

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However, his behaviour may have helped spark a wave of pothole vigilantism across the country, with several other frustrated residents vandalising local roads to emphasise the problem.

In November 2022, 76-year-old Jenny Hartich, dubbed the “graffiti grandma”, used several colours to paint images, such as rabbits, on the road to warn motorists about potholes ahead on Central Coast motorways. The local council banned her from using her spray cans.

Tree planted in a pothole

In April, a frustrated resident in the United States planted a tree in a pothole to get it fixed. Photo: Facebook.

Regional councils have observed that an easier and legal way for concerned residents to alert them to dangerous potholes is via their websites. Wagga City Council has an online complaint form, which enables photos to be uploaded, while Griffith City Council also has a feedback/complaints form. Transport for NSW has a dedicated site to report potholes, where you can pinpoint the exact address of the road hazard. The authority says it will investigate if it is a state road or pass the information on to the relevant council if it is a local government road.

Councils have also argued they do not have enough funds to repair all the damaged roads they own, which is why they have appealed to the NSW Government for financial help.

The State Government’s roads authority – Transport for NSW – say it has been working hard to fix potholes in the region.

“As of March 31, 2023, more than 222,000 potholes have been repaired on state roads across NSW since the first wave of severe weather in February 2022,” a spokesperson said. ”In the Riverina region alone, close to 24,000 potholes have been repaired on state roads since February last year.”

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Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Jenny Aitchison says the new State Government will continue to boost funding.

“[Our] new fund will more than double the former government’s $280m Regional and Local Road Repair Program and go towards addressing the funding disparity under that program which had seen metro councils receive five times the funding per kilometre as regional councils,” she said.

“Transport and roads are a social determinant of health, education, opportunity and jobs, and keeping the entire road network up to scratch is key to connecting our communities.

“I’ll be working very closely with regional councils and local members to see how best our Government can support them, particularly in my roads portfolio as they continue to recover from last year’s floods.”

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