Pothole city: How wild weather has blown out road repair budget

A section of River Road has been closed due to weather damage. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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Penrith City Council has surpassed its average of 800 pothole repairs a year with over 1300 recorded in the last five months due to extreme weather.

With a large repair task at hand, Penrith Mayor Tricia Hitchen has joined other Mayors across western Sydney and northwest Sydney to campaign for a metropolitan road repairs fund to help support the councils’ response.

Cr Hitchen along with Mayors from The Hills Shire, Hawkesbury, Hornsby, Wollondilly and Campbelltown are calling for funding from the State and Federal Governments after Local Government NSW declared a ‘Statewide Roads Emergency’ at the National Local Roads and Transport Congress.

During the record-breaking rain in March, Council reportedly received a year’s worth of potholes within two weeks, before experiencing further severe rainfall during the year.

“Council has been proactive and redirected services to forward fund $2 million for pothole repairs, to keep up with the increasing demand for repairs,” Cr Hitchen said.

“That’s not sustainable, which is why Council has joined other metropolitan Councils to seek additional funding for more support in this space.”

With a spate of floods impacting roads around the Local Government Area, safety for community members and visitors is at front of mind for Cr Hitchen.

“There has been massive flooding in our semi-rural areas such as Londonderry as well as road damage right across the city like on Jamison Road and Nepean Avenue due to the pooling of water,” she said.

“This is not something you can leave for a month or two. You have to do them straight away, otherwise people’s cars get damaged, or they cause accidents.”

The NSW Government announced it will provide $50 million under the Fixing Local Roads Pothole Repair Program but this will only assist regional and rural councils to address their highest priority pothole requests.

Trying to deal with the extent of damage across the local road network with a wet summer predicted is proving to be increasingly difficult.

“Our goal is to repair about 85 per cent of potholes within a couple of days but we have fallen a bit short of that one,” Cr Hitchen said.

“You are meant to wait for the pothole to dry out, but we have had to patch some that are still wet.

“People think we are doing a poor job as they form again but our crews are doing what they can to make them less dangerous until we have some dry weather so we can fill them properly.”

Cr Hitchen said extra support from funding will benefit residents greatly.

“We would use the money to supplement and speed up Council’s roads renewal program in areas impacted by flooding and wet weather,” she said.

“These works would include pothole repairs, heavy patching, resurfacing and the reconstruction of Council’s pavement – and this would be undertaken by Council staff and external resources.”

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