Council cops cash injection to fund short-term emergency roadworks

Council has been handed $500,000 to pave over the city’s worst potholes while awaiting the verdict on a plea for tens of millions of dollars for widespread repairs. 

Wagga council’s 2300km road network was “severely impacted” by record rainfall during winter and the wettest ever September, which caused $24 million worth of damage to road surfaces.

The half-million dollar grant is a slice of $11.5 million being doled out by the state government to 21 flood affected councils including Carrathool, Griffith, Leeton, Murrumbidgee and Narrandera. 

The grant is for councils to “get on with the job of rebuilding”, a stopgap while more sizable funding requests are considered. 

Shortly after being installed as mayor in September, mayor Greg Conkey said council would consider borrowing the funds to repair Wagga’s pothole-plagued roads if the state government didn’t lend a hand. 

But Wagga MP Daryl Maguire was confident about Wagga’s prospects of disaster relief.

“Our region has been hit hard by the severe flooding and our roads have taken a real battering and there is more wet weather forecasted,” Mr Maguire said.

“The flooding has seen many detours in place and are likely to remain in the coming weeks, putting more stress on council roads.

“Councils usually get the money they ask for and it’s a reasonably prompt process.” 

Mr Maguire said the $500,000 was doled out to keep graders going while the far more sizeable sum is considered.

“There are trucks and graders and earth-movers working right across the Wagga electorate,” Mr Maguire said.

“This funding is over and above what they’ve asked for, to keep the councils pushing on while claims are assessed.”

Deputy mayor Dallas Tout said the $24 million was “critical” to repair road infrastructure.

“Council completed an audit of all the roads and prioritised the damage and safety risk, as well as which roads we can work through in order,” Cr Tout said.

“It’s critical we get that bulk funding in medium to long term, which is why it’s sensational we've been assessed as flood-affected.”

Neither Mr Maguire not Cr Tout had any knowledge of when the verdict on the $24 million application will be handed down. 

Wagga is also eligible for funding under a joint state and federal disaster relief fund, expected to cover part of the repair bill for flood damage, such as the Riverside precinct.

Council’s funds for roadworks fall short by $9 million a year, which created a backlog of $28m before the recent heavy rain.

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