Former mayor claims Wagga council consistently under-funds roads

COST-CUTTING within Wagga council’s engineering department is being blamed for the city’s pothole plagued roads.  

It comes amid revelations Wagga’s annual road maintenance budget is $9 million less than required to adequately maintain smooth driving surfaces.

Former mayor Kevin Wales has aired a conversation he had with a former head of engineering in 2007, in which the former staff member claimed cheap construction practices produced local roads with two-year lifespans.

“Council doesn't use the best road surface material and never has in my view,” Mr Wales said.

“In 2007, the-then head of engineering said Wagga’s roads were made to last two years, whereas the good stuff gets at least five to seven years of wear. 

“It’s been wet for sure, but council needs to use better materials.”

Wagga’s endured 585.6mm of rain in 2016, already 15.7mm more than the yearly average with another 14 weeks left until 2017.

While the last term of council blamed the winter, clay under the road surface and urban salinity, Lake Albert residents believe those issues merely exacerbated poor construction. 

Lakeside Drive resident Sue Alleva claimed council staff were forced to fill “two dozen” potholes at the weekend, just two-and-a-half years after resurfacing.

“The resurfacing of 1.3 kilometres of Lakeside Drive in 2014 took 18 months and cost $1.4 million,” Ms Alleva said.

“They spent all that time getting the road right, then they just sprayed the surface with tar and spread gravel over it, instead of bitumen hot mix.

“Now there’s patches of dirt in the middle of the road around four metres by three metres.”

Ms Alleva regularly drives down Lake Albert Road, where she claims cheap construction has become a safety hazard. 

“Along Lake Albert Road, you either swerve to avoid the potholes and risk sideswiping the car next to you, or you drive through them and risk damaging your car,” she said. 

“I’ve spoken to road construction professionals, who have told me Lake Albert Road was a cheap build more suited to light traffic.”

Council has acknowledged failures in the Lakeside Drive and Lord Baden Powell Drive road rehabilitation projects.

“A remedial action plan is being developed with a view to achieving a long-term solution to the issues with these roadways,” a council spokeswoman said.

“Record rainfalls this winter and the current minor flood event have contributed to the deterioration of some local roads.”

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