Road funding slashed

The Western Australia Local Government Association (WALGA) have warned that community road safety will be at risk after the state government announced cuts to local road funding in its budget.

Late last year the local roads funding agreement with Local Government was abandoned, removing $70 million in expected funding over three years.

WALGA President Mayor Troy Pickard said the failure to fully reinstate the funding in the Budget was a failure to appreciate the impact on Local Governments who are responsible for almost 90 per cent of roads in the State.

“The State Government had a five-year agreement with local communities and they went back on their word,” he said.

“Without adequate road funding from the State Government, Councils will have to scale back their works programs which will affect the standard of roads and ultimately community safety will be put at risk”.

The concern among the Local Government sector about the cuts has prompted the WALGA State Council at their annual regional meeting to unanimously endorse a State wide advertising campaign to highlight the funding betrayal by the State and the ultimate risk to community safety.

Mayor Pickard said the Grants Commission kept comprehensive data on the local road network, which identifies a $100 million gap between what, was spent by Councils and that required to maintain roads in their current condition.

He said even before the funding cuts, there was additional pressure on local roads as a result of congestion from population growth and increased freight movements of heavy vehicles and that the situation will only get worse.

“The recent rain out in the wheatbelt has the farming community rejoicing but when it is time for that wheat to get to port there will again be increased pressure on those local roads.

“There is only so much Local Governments can do to prioritise repairs and maintenance of roads before there starts to be a significant decline in the quality of the network. Once roads are in a state that is unsafe then there is a risk to the whole community who could end up paying the ultimate price.”