YOU don’t have to drive far in Wagga to run into the problem – literally.
Our city’s roads are beginning to resemble the surface of the moon, pockmarked with crater-sized potholes as far as the eye can see.
The recent deluge – we’ve already eclipsed September’s all-time rainfall record – has simply exposed an issue we all knew lay just beneath the surface.
Ever since the horse and cart days, our roads have been plagued by potholes.
In the 1980s, former mayor Ron Harris once famously quipped there was a local pothole you could “bury a decent-sized dog in”.
More recently, a bumper sticker has gained a cult following, with “I’m not drunk, just dodging potholes in Wagga Wagga” emblazoned across it.
Banging on about the wretched state of Wagga’s roads has become a cultural touchstone.
And yet nothing seems to change; in fact, it’s getting worse.
The situation has become so farcical, one yawning chasm of a pothole at the Kooringal end of Lord Baden Powell Drive has become wide enough to prompt council to place witches hats around it.
This has forced drivers onto the shoulder of the road, which is now starting to form its own potholes.
Our crumbling roads are dangerous, embarrassing and infuriating.
Most galling is the fact we are whacked at every turn to pay for them – rates, taxes, rego fees, licence fees, petrol excise, toll roads and more. Where’s the money going?
Wagga City Council has become a convenient whipping boy on this issue. In a perfect world, every road would be paved with hotmix and fixed at the first sight of cracking.
But a $9 million annual roads funding blackhole at council means we have to settle for inadequate patch-up jobs. There’s little doubt council could drive more efficiency in its roads department, but the state and federal government must urgently come to the party.
We need more money. We need more access to government grants, more qualified engineering expertise at council and a greater slice of the fuel excise pie.
The gap between what motorists put in to use roads and what is invested back into the road network has become as wide as a Wagga pothole. It needs to be fixed.