“Council develops New Roads Methodology”

The District Council of Mount Remarkable has embarked on a project to review its current road maintenance practices and review its annual road program to address concerns of the staff, Council and ratepayers.

The District Council of Mount Remarkable has a network of approximately 650kms of Category one and two unsealed roads (main haulage routes) and a further 1800 km of Category three and four roads and reserves spread across an area of approximately 3,430 square km. It has three graders for patrol grading and one grader full time in the road construction crew to maintain its entire road network.

Recognising that many of the unsealed roads are of concern to residents and ratepayers an independent specialist roads engineer report was initiated to review council works practices compared to other local government practices state-wide, and identify contributing factors to inform Council.

To fully understand how the roads are used Council embarked on an extensive roads survey to all ratepayers to gain information from the road users, type of vehicle and the number of heavy haulage utilising the roads both local and contractors.  Works were undertaken to drill every road at one kilometer intervals and at all intersections to form a database of the depth of the material.  This database is critical in the formulation of the report that collated the material available, the condition of the road base and the category of road being a one or two (main haulage route).

Additionally, Council identified one of the key impacts upon road damage and deterioration is the change in haulage requirements of farmers. Recent years has seen the closure of the rail followed by the closure of nearby grain silos, forcing farmers to cart grains to more distant silos. This in turn has seen the rapid introduction of larger haulage vehicles to carry more grain in less trips and minimize the time and cost from farm-gate to silo.

Taking into account ratepayers concerns and the data collected Council developed the ‘Unsealed Roads and Patrol Grading Methodology’.  The methodology recognised climatic conditions had a significant bearing on the quality of patrol grading and recommended the practice of ‘Dry Grading’ cease.  As such it is critical Council maximises the window after rain events and adopted to maximise quality of grading outputs by extending the operational hours of the patrol graders to work up to 10 hours per day for six days of the week.  

Council continues to engage with the community through Mayoral Information Sessions, social media and has developed a Farmers Reference Group to positively interact with the community and advocate the recommendations of the ‘Unsealed Roads and Patrol Grading Methodology’.  This is a long term program and already the initiatives have come to fruition and positive feedback has been received.