A South Australian councillor says his calls to fix an “extremely dangerous” road have been “falling on deaf ears”.
- Wattle Range Council says its letters to the state government have gone unanswered
- The mayor says there is confusion as to who bears the responsibility for the repairs
- The council’s chief executive says the state government has a “20-year backlog” of work that needs state government funding
Wattle Range councillor Dale Price told ABC South East SA that Kangaroo Flat Road, near Mount Gambier, was in “dire need” of repair.
“It’s not [just] the bitumen surface that’s the problem — it’s the edges that are a serious issue,” he said.
“There are sharp, 20 centimetre drop-offs.
“There’s been no attention given to them in so long, there’s now grass growing in these drop-offs.”
Cr Price says fixing the road has been a long-running “personal quest”.
“I’ve called and written to the Department of Transport and Infrastructure for years and it’s been blissfully forgotten,” he said.
The narrow Kangaroo Flat Road, near Mount Gambier, is frequently used by timber trucks as well as residents.()
‘Dangerously large potholes’
Wattle Range Council had also met with former premier Steven Marshall and followed up with a series of letters to former infrastructure and transport minister Cory Wingard in 2021 on the issue.
Wattle Range Council Mayor Des Noll pointed to “short-term bandaid solutions” on state roads.
“Dangerously large potholes are forming across the entire road network, with motorists regularly reporting that they have blown tyres or been forced off the road because of them,” he said.
Cr Noll said confusion over road maintenance and assessments following the centralisation of the Department of Transport and the outsourcing of work to contractors had exacerbated the issue.
“We are unsure of who is responsible for carrying out condition assessments, setting priorities, allocating funds and determining what needs to be done,” he said.
“Whoever it is, the network and the system that it is supposed to be managing, it is failing.”
The letters, which addressed a meeting with Mr Marshall at which the issue was also raised, asked for an “urgent” response but have gone unanswered.
‘Accident waiting to happen’
In a statement this week to the ABC, council chief executive Ben Gower said there was “still a 20-year backlog of work that needs to be funded by the state government”.
“All of these roads are carrying heavy vehicles on a daily basis,” he said.
“They are failing and require a complete rebuild rather than bandaid maintenance.”
Cr Price said the state of Kangaroo Flat Road was “an accident waiting to happen”.
“One road-user told me she hit a pothole and didn’t know if she was going to land at the Mount Gambier airport,” he said.
“It’s an ongoing problem. It has not been addressed.”
Cr Price said contractor Fulton Hogan told council the roads were to be inspected every fortnight.
“Well clearly that’s not happening,” he said.
“And [I learned] recently that once a pothole reaches a certain size it’s no longer [Fulton Hogan’s] problem — it becomes a Department of Infrastructure and Transport problem.
“The outcome is an extremely dangerous situation.”
A Department for Infrastructure and Transport spokesperson said it was working with its road maintenance contractor in the area “to schedule repairs to address road shoulder issues on Kangaroo Flat Road”.
It noted “targeted repairs to re-sheet the road shoulder are expected to be completed by the end of July, weather permitting”.
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