Many of our roads have deteriorated over recent years to the point that driving on some of them has become a hazard. Numerous drivers have complained about their tyres being damaged when going over large potholes, particularly when it is raining or dark. Why have our roads deteriorated so much and who is responsible for them? Read on for a few answers.

Close up photo of the Ballan Road damage.

The reason why many of our roads in Victoria are in poor condition is a combination of factors. Two years of fairly wet weather had exacerbated the problems. If the roads are not adequately maintained and potholes are not fixed promptly, water gets into the road base and weakens it so that the failure in that section of road becomes much worse and much more expensive to fix.

There are many examples of road pavements failing and causing hazards including:

  • The Tylden to Woodend Road just before the Bendigo Rail crossing failed around two years ago and the 40kph speed limit was then extended as more of the roadway failed. Apart from some minor patching it is still a 40kph hazard.
  • Numerous potholes on the Daylesford to Ballan Road and its continuation towards Geelong have had very limited attention after two years of deterioration and cars being damaged.
  • Sections of the Western Highway have had pavement problems. Warning signs have been set out but limited repairs have been made.
  • Storms have caused fallen trees which have been cut and moved to the edge of the roads but continue to cause hazards while warning signs are considered sufficient.

Now we come to who is responsible. Most of the main roads and highways are the responsibility of VicRoads. They used to be a separate road authority with dedicated funding. Vic Roads and the preceding Country Roads Board had developed many of the best roads in Australia. Several years ago, the engineering expertise was progressively reduced and then VicRoads was absorbed into the Department of Transport. Now there are Metropolitan and Regional Roads sections under a mega state Transport Department run by public servants with little or no engineering expertise who rely on external consultants much of the time. External consultants are usually brought in for a particular project and have little or no “ownership” of the project once it is implemented.

Serious road damage in King Street late last year on the way to Victoria Park. Eventually the road was repaired but only after many near accidents and some wheels being damaged.

King Street/Vincent Street is the responsibility of Vic Roads except for the section between the two roundabouts in the retail area which Hepburn Shire Council looks after. Council is also responsible for most local roads and has workers who patrol these and can respond fairly promptly when potholes and other hazards develop. If you have an issue with local roads, contact Council by phone, in person or via their on-line, service request system if it is not urgent.

With huge funding being moved into metropolitan road projects that are likely to benefit Melbourne, significant funding appears to have been shifted from regional roads. If you are concerned please lobby our State Members, not Vic Roads, as the politicians will decide the priorities in the upcoming State Budget.

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