Gloucester Road project stalled

THERE may not have been enough money to repair Gloucester Road even if Greater Taree City Council had been successful in receiving stage two construction funding of the $12.5 million Community Infrastructure Grant. 

Council said that the total cost to deliver 100 per cent of all works designed in stage one was in excess of the stage two construction funding allocation. Council said it was considering the apportionment of the budget when the grant was put on hold. Gloucester Road was one of a number of local roads earmarked for repair work as part of the Greater Taree Roads and Bridges Package.

Council said a broad estimate for the proposed repairs to Gloucester Road is $6.4 million, broken down into the following sections:

o 1.8 km section from Boundary Road to Dollys Flat Road ($1.9m)

o 3.2 km from Killawarra Station Road to Killawarra Bridge ($3.4m), and 

o 1 km section from Bo-Bo Creek Bridge to 1km South ($1.1m)

When considering the repairs to Gloucester Road, council said it budgeted for a total replacement of the current road including full road pavement rehabilitation, shoulder widening and drainage improvements in the three sections.

However, according to council final costs have not been determined because a competitive tender would need to be issued and responded to by companies wanting to carry out the work.

Locals, who attended a recent public meeting with mayor Paul Hogan at Dollys Flat, were strong in their opinions of the state of the road.

Cecily Scurr of Burrell Creek, a ratepayer for 45 years, said local roads were some of the worse in the State.

Council agreed that significant sections of Gloucester Road have "reached the end of their effective useful life," and are beyond council's ability to maintain on a day-to-day basis.

However council said it does not usually seek funds for specifically identified roads and determines road rehabilitation priorities on an annual basis based on circumstances. Recent floods, for example, have required council to change priorities.

The condition of bridges may also require a change in priorities as bridges are such essential links. Council has been aware of the infrastructure issues facing them for more than 10 years and has been pursing solutions for more than 10 years which would seek to resolve areas such as Gloucester Road, a spokesperson said.

In considering its infrastructure backlog and its available funds from all sources, there is currently no other council funds allocated to Gloucester Road (other than routine maintenance) as the Federal Community Infrastructure Grant allocation was a significant injection. Council will need to consider reprioritisation of available funds in future budgets should the CIG or similar funding source not be made available, the spokesperson said.

Former member for Lyne Rob Oakeshott tried unsuccessfully to change the way that local roads are funded.

In 2012 he called on the major political parties to support his efforts to have a proportion of GST revenue redirected to local councils to fix local roads and bridges. He said in a statement at the time there were road maintenance problems facing Taree, Gloucester, Port Macquarie-Hastings and Kempsey. "In fact 562 local councils around the nation are in need of a new funding model to help maintain a local road network of 700,000 kilometres," he said.

Greater Taree City Council sought a meeting with the deputy prime minister Warren Truss on this issue when councillors met with Lyne MP, David Gillespie last week.

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