POTHOLE EXPLOSION: Councils battle to fix roads after floods

WATCH OUT: A pothole on Richmond Hill Road that looks like Australia.
WATCH OUT: A pothole on Richmond Hill Road that looks like Australia. Marc Stapelberg

TO GIVE you an idea of the Northern Rivers pothole problem, Richmond Valley Council has patched 13,680 potholes on its roads between April and June.

And they are not alone in their pothole plight.

Since January 1, Lismore City Council said it has filled 17,957 potholes and named Wyrallah, Nimbin and Coraki Rds among the worst in its patch.

On the coast at Ballina, the council said about 3500 potholes have been fixed in the past three months.

In the past financial year, Byron Shire Council has revealed it has spent $1.5 million filling potholes with 5606 filled in between April 1 to June 30.

All four councils and Kyogle Council have said the floods have played a huge role in the emergence of potholes littered along roads across the Northern Rivers.

Each council has adopted different strategies to tackle maintenance to repair their road networks.

Lismore City Council's executive director infrastructure services Gary Murphy said the council had prioritised ensuring roads in a mediocre condition were maintained to uphold the broader road network.

He said the plan it enabled the council's road network to operate soundly as it started to tackle roads that needed advanced repairs.

The council have listed 71 roads that need repairs for the next 12 months.

"Our network is substandard at the moment and it may take us 12-18 months before some parts of our community see a major improvement," Mr Murphy said.

A similar strategy has been implemented by Byron Shire Council, director of infrastructure services Phil Holloway said.

Mr Holloway said there hasn't been a major road reconstruction program within the shire because it just didn't have the resources.

Signs placed at the southern and northern entrances to Byron Bay making it clear potholes should be fixed.
Signs placed at the southern and northern entrances to Byron Bay making it clear potholes should be fixed. Samantha Elley

He said the State Government approved rate variation of a 7.5% increase over four years was "for the sole purpose of increasing the infrastructure spend to deal with the backlog".

"The strategy is to get to a point where the network doesn't deteriorate but there is a period of time where the catch up has to occur so we are at the very start," he said.

"This is year one of a multi year program.

"The funds have to be spent in those activities, that's the reassurance that the State Government is watching what's happening, so there's an accountability there."

Facebook pages and other social media platforms have for years documented the disarray of some of our region's roads by sharing potholes.

This week, controversial signs were erected in Byron Shire suggesting potholes were to blame for the death of a road cyclist two weeks ago.

For Mr Murphy, he said urged the community of Lismore to alert council to problematic potholes on 1300 878 387.

"For me, if people have time to post a picture of a pothole on a pothole Facebook page than please take the time to post it on council's Facebook page which is monitored," he said.


A pothole on Rifle Range Road in Wollongbar.
A pothole on Rifle Range Road in Wollongbar. Marc Stapelberg

"Then if the performance of council is sub-standard in fixing those potholes, then they have every right to bang a very loud drum."

"If we don't know about it we can't fix it."

Ballina Shire Council's maintenance coordinator, Stuart Hynes said the council was "pretty proud" of the conditions of its roads.

Any damage to major arterial roads connecting different parts of the shire were usually fixed within six days, he said.

Pacific Highway upgrades continue to be an on-going roads maintenance issue for the Richmond Valley, according to the council's acting general manager Angela Jones.

She said the council had been supported by developer contributions to assist with on-going road repairs.

Despite enduring three floods in three months, Ms Jones said the valley's roads were on the mend.

"I am confident that Richmond Valley roads are standing up and we've probably got some of the better road networks in the region at the moment through our proactive maintenance," she said.

Woodburn and Coraki Rd joined 45 roads in the valley that have been flagged for repairs with the works estimated to be completed in the next year.

For Kyogle Council's Director of Infrastructure, Tony Lickliss the key to preventing potholes is good drainage, citing the Romans utilising the technique centuries ago.

"Enhancing drainage will dramatically improve the roadway," he said.

Assessing the condition of Kyogle's roads across the region, he said the council's "forward thinking" and consistent maintenance has kept potholes to a minimum.

Topics:  ballina shire council byron shire council kyogle council lismore city council northern rivers roads potholes richmond valley council road maintenance road works

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