Farmers warn regional roads need maintenance cash

We’re warning regional roads won’t be able to cope with future severe weather events if they are not maintained to a basic standard.

In a recent submission to the federal parliament, the VFF argues that a lack of road maintenance funding exacerbated damage caused by recent flooding. 

VFF President Emma Germano said farmers were frustrated that governments continue to neglect road maintenance.

“Enhancing the resilience of the road network to deal with extreme weather events is important, but it can only be achieved by ensuring there is regular maintenance to keep them at an acceptable standard.”

“Maintenance funding keeps going backwards and worryingly Victorians keep risking their lives on dodgy and dangerous roads.”

VFF Transport and Infrastructure Committee Chair Ryan Milgate said that in planning for resilience, the government needs to take into account changes in network usage and the increasing demands placed on the roads by high-productivity freight vehicles.  

“Resilience is not only about the gravel and bitumen, but the planning processes around it too.”

“The standard and condition of roads must be up to the task of carrying the freight vehicles we use to get food and fibre to market. That’s why the VFF is advocating for the Victorian Government to undertake a state-wide agricultural freight strategy, to better understand where investments need to be targeted.” 

Mr Milgate also said that local government must be better resourced to get on with the job of fixing their road networks.

“We are seeing shires in the north of the state facing repair bills of over $50 million in the aftermath of the floods. The Victorian Government has cut its Fixing Country Roads Program, which is badly needed to help local government plan and get on top of road rehabilitation.”

The VFF also supported calls by the newly formed Rural Roads Alliance for a $5.5 billion emergency funding package in the upcoming federal budget.

“We’ll continue calling on the Victorian and Commonwealth governments to increase the funding available to regional roads asset maintenance,” Mr Milgate concluded.