More rain has caused more potholes in Wagga’s already-pockmarked roads, which councillors say need a cash injection from the state government.
The state of the city’s roads had long been a worry for residents like mechanic Jesse McInnes, who said he often had customers call in with buckled wheels and popped tyres from driving around the city.
“There was a bloke last week who hit a pothole with both wheels on one side of his van and it squared off the rims and popped his tyres,” Mr McInnes said.
“The way the rains have been they come and patch up potholes then it rains again and they’re back again. If you hit a pothole you need to check it out, because (the tyre) could pop five minutes later… popping at 100km/h can be quite dangerous.”
According to council director Caroline Angel, last weekend’s heavy rain had increased the number of potholes in Wagga and workers were busy prioritising repair work.
“Following the above average rainfall across our region, council road surveillance officers are working with patching crews to ensure the highest priority potholes are repaired as quickly as possible,” Ms Angel said. “There have been no significant issues following the recent rain, however scouring of some table drains and an increase in potholes has occurred. Council staff will prioritise works based on risk.”
Councillor Vanessa Keenan said the community was crying out for more road funding to fix the problem once and for all.
“In the past week we’ve heard about the state government spending $2 billion rebuilding Sydney stadiums and they’re making noises that they’re listening and trying to improve some things, but not to the extent that they’ll provide adequate funding,” Cr Keenan said.
“We’ve seen unprecedented rain events – in all likelihood they’ll only occur more often – and a state government that says the problems are with local government, but the main issue is inadequate funding… (the backlog) gets worse and worse.”
However, Member for Wagga Daryl Maguire said the state government had poured more money into the area than ever.
“I can’t recall council coming cap in hand for money to do some work,” Mr Maguire said.
“As of last year its block funding went from $1.4 million to $1.8 million… it should be in a good position to fill a few potholes.”
Mr Maguire listed a number of projects the state government had recently funded in Wagga, including an $868,000 grant to improve Byrnes Road, upgrades to the Sturt Highway and other infrastructure like the hospital and ambulance station.
“This is part of a record $73.2 billion investment in regional NSW,” Mr Maguire said.
Councillor Tim Koschel said rather than continually patching up Wagga’s roads, it was time to repair them properly.
“I 100 per cent agree that it’s time to fix our roads,” Cr Tim Koschel said. “We had issues last year with the big downpours and it took months to fix them, we do the best we can with what we’ve got but we need to look at ways to be proactive rather than reactive.”