22 November 2022

Wagga City Council more than $50m short on funds needed to fix roads

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
Join the conversation
Broken street

Flash flooding has taken a toll on the streets of Forest Hill. Photo: Riverina Weather (Facebook).

“Fix the roads! We’ve all heard it, and it’s a fair comment to make,” Councillor Dan Hayes said. “The question is, ‘how?’.”

Councillor Dan Hayes posed the question at Monday’s council meeting in response to a report by council’s director of infrastructure, Warren Faulkner. The report revealed Wagga has one of the worst infrastructure backlogs in the state.

Wagga Mayor Dallas Tout is appealing to the Prime Minister and the NSW Premier for help after revelations the council is tens of millions of dollars short of the funds needed to fix the city’s crumbling road network.

“We knew this was an issue and has been for quite some time, not just with the rain more recently,” Cr Hayes said.

“We know the challenges we’ve got … we can have that conversation and can move on to ‘how’ rather than just say fix the roads and leave it.”

The length of the road network in Wagga puts it in the top five councils in NSW but the percentage of total expenditure on roads, bridges and footpaths is in the bottom five of the 26 regional councils.

READ ALSO Glenfield Road Animal Shelter invites you to come and meet your new furry friend

The report showed council had a year-on-year funding shortfall for road maintenance, which added to the rate of deterioration of the road network.

Wagga City Council needs to urgently find additional funding to clear the backlog and complete road repairs to bring the network to an acceptable standard.

For the 2022/23 financial year, the council had budgeted $37.4 million in expenditure on road upgrades, maintenance and renewal but will need an estimated $91 million to fix the roads.

Cr Hayes stressed the urgency of the situation and said, in addition to reexamining its own budget, council needed to call on State and Federal Government “to fund the region consistently and not just when there’s an issue”.

“We heard very loud from the community that we need to sort our roads,” he said.

As well as exploring improved technological solutions, he pushed for alternative transport options to be prioritised.

“We have a city with a woeful public transport system … replacing cars with buses is non-existent,” he said.

Warren Faulkner

Wagga Wagga City Council Director of Infrastructure Warren Faulkner. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

“Active travel needs to be utilized, working from home, and many other options as well over the decades to come. It won’t provide a quick fix, but we need to continually discuss it.”

Mr Faulkner said council was currently patching potholes for safety reasons.

“What we’re doing is not a long-term permanent solution. It’s about making sure the travelling public is safe and not swerving around these potholes,” Mr Faulkner said.

“Patching potholes in wet weather is not an ideal situation and we can see that, but we’ve got to patch them to ensure the safety of the road user.”

The director of infrastructure hopes the State Government will announce pothole funding next month.

READ ALSO Griffith Wars author donates 50-year life works on mafia crime to Charles Sturt University

He said the council’s budget process would kick off by February, and by April council would adopt its budget.

“We’re looking at a six to 12 month process timeframe for when the funding will become available.”

In October, the State Government announced a $50 million boost to help tackle potholes on regional roads.

Mr Faulkner believed Wagga City Council would receive about half a million to three-quarters of a million from the funding.

Wagga City Council unanimously accepted the report to undertake workshops to consider and develop funding strategies to provide increased funding for road maintenance and renewal, as well as address the backlog of works.

Council also agreed to call for an Expression of Interest from suitable contractors to undertake a variety of emergency road repairs and to commence a select tender process for specialised road repair equipment.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Daily Digest

Want the best Riverina news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riverina stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.