10m-roads-boost-for-south-gippslandThe seemingly interminable works on the South Gippsland Highway continued last week, near Ruby, while the infamous section of the road closer to Leongatha started to break up again but this latest round of ‘Roads to Recovery’ funding is for works away from the main highways and other VicRoads’ responsibilities. M084014

$10 MILLION over the next five years.

That’s how much the South Gippsland Shire Council will receive from the Australian Government’s Roads to Recovery program as part of a $2.1 billion injection nationwide announced by Warren Truss, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, last week.
With 1200 kilometres of unsealed roads and 800km of sealed roads to look after, the funding announcement has been warmly welcomed by the council.
Bass Coast Shire has considerably less sealed (590km) and unsealed (632km) pavement to maintain and will receive an allocation of almost $4 million over the next five years, including $664,642 in 2014-15.
Of the six municipalities in Gippsland, South Gippsland’s $10,031,449, including $1,671,908 in 2014-15, is the third biggest allocation, behind East Gippsland ($13.24m/$2.2m) and Wellington ($13.3m/$2.2m).
Latrobe City, with a smaller road network, gets $7.2m and Baw Baw $7.5m while near neighbour Cardinia gets $7m over five years.

South Gippsland

“The extra funding from the government will assist in helping council deliver the renewal program for roads,” said Anthony Seabrook, Director of Engineering Services.
“Without this funding Council would struggle to provide a safe road network for the community. But of course Council could always do with more funding as there is still 1300km of unsealed roads in the shire that need to be maintained,” he said.
Council’s total allocation for the period between 2014-2019 of $10,031,449 will be delivered as follows: $1,671,908 in 2014-15, $3,343,816 in 2015-16, $1,671,908 in 2016-17, $1,671,908 in 2017-18 and $1,671,908 in 2018/19.
Projects to be undertaken out of the funding in South Gippsland in the 2014-15 financial year include:
• Henrys Road, Nyora (road reconstruction) $523,681. Includes 3501m2 of road to be reconstructed including kerb and channel, drainage and road pavement
• Victory Avenue, Foster (road reconstruction) $729,7504,380m2 to be reconstructed including kerb and channel, drainage, footpath and road pavement
• Leongatha Industrial Estate (road rehabilitation)- 1600 square meters of road pavement will be rehabilitated including some drainage
• Stewarts Road, Outtrim (reseal) – $127,355 4.1km of road will be resealed.

$1/2 million extra for Bass

Bass Coast’s General Manager Infrastructure, Felicity Sist, is pleased the shire has received almost $1/2 million more across the four years.
“We are happy to see that the Federal Government has made a commitment to continue Roads to Recovery funding for another four years,” Sist said.
“Council will be receiving $664,642 in 2014-15 which is a slight increase on the allocation from last year ($660,116).
“The overall allocation for the four year period of approximately $4 million is an additional $575,000 on the previous four year allocation, which we welcome.
“We would always welcome more as there is a gap in how much we need to do and how much we can fund overall for road maintenance (renewal).
“We lodge quarterly reports for claims, and the amount claimed is based on expenditure for that period.
“The 2014-15 allocation for Roads to Recovery will be spent on renewing Grandview Grove, Cowes and Loch-Wonthaggi Road/Baum Road to Grantville Glen Alvie Road in Ryanston.

Shires must do their bit

Mr Truss said last week that he would be writing to all councils to advise each of its share of the Roads to Recovery money.
“This year, the Australian Government is allocating $350 million to councils under Roads to Recovery,” Mr Truss said.
“We are also making good on our commitment to double Roads to Recovery funding next year, to $700 million, which we announced in the 2014 Federal Budget. This will greatly assist local councils in being able to meet local construction and repair needs.”
Mr Truss said councils will be able to lodge their Roads to Recovery annual report for 2013-14 and their new projects for 2014-15 next month.
This is to ensure compliance with the conditions of the program that Roads to Recovery funding is use for additional works and not to fund works already budgeted for by councils.
“Lodgement in October will allow associated payments under the new Roads to Recovery program to be made this November,” he said.
“This aligns with the usual quarterly reporting and payment regime and means that only one-quarter has been delayed as a result of Labor and The Greens’ unnecessary five-month delay in passing the legislation required for the program.
“The Australian Government will make up the lost allocation to councils this financial year to ensure no council is out-of-pocket. Local roads and street works should not suffer because of Labor’s penchant for political games.
“I can also confirm that for the life of the 2014-15 to 2018-19 Roads to Recovery period, the minimum amount of their own funds that councils must direct to road construction and maintenance each year to access their Roads to Recovery allocation will be anchored at 2013-14 levels.
“The Australian Government regards Roads to Recovery as a vital partnership with local councils, supporting them with the ongoing maintenance of Australia’s local road infrastructure, facilitating greater access, improved safety, and economic and social outcomes.”

Take with the other hand

Municipal Association of Victoria President Cr Bill McArthur also welcomed the funding announcement but had two related issues for Mr Truss and the government to think about.
He said the funding only went part of the way to providing enough money for asset renewal and the Roads to Recovery program should be made permanent.
He also said municipalities would still be out-of-pocket in total due to the freezing of Financial Assistance Grants in the budget, leaving council’s millions of dollars worse off.
South Gippsland Shire, for example, will be $1.5 million out of pocket over five years and upwards of $3.9 million down over 10 years.
Mr McArthur said the increases in Roads to Recovery funding only went part of the way to redressing that situation.
Bass Coast has estimated a loss of around $500,000 over three years as a result of the freeze to any increase in FAG funding.