Funding call for country roads

Barry Zadow highlights the importance of effective asphalt patches. Photo Samantha McCombe.
SHARE:
Locals want government funding for road works in the Southern Grampians Shire. Samantha McCombe reports.

A road patroller in the Southern Grampians Shire said that recent government funding should be used to improve maintenance and prevent “quick fix” solutions for damaged asphalt roads.

Coleraine road patroller Barry Zadow, who repairs asphalt roads for his local council, said the funding should be used for quality maintenance rather than temporary fixes.

The Regional Roads Victoria program, initiated in September 2018, has said that over $500,000 will be used to fix country roads in the Southern Grampians Shire.

According to the Regional Roads Victoria website, the funding is “in response to community sentiment and a greater need to maintain and future-proof [the] regional road network”.

An Opposition media release in February said, “It’s time to get back to basics and build and repair roads properly, the first time.”

Mr Zadow agreed saying road patches should be done not as a quick fix, but as a temporary solution until the road can be fully repaired.

“What I do is still temporary but it’s a long term temporary. If it’s a good solid base a patch might last 18 months to a year,” Mr Zadow said.

Matt Kelly, 40, a truck owner and driver who often travels these rural roads, said he doesn’t understand patch asphalt solutions and finds them frustrating.

Patch fixes are a waste of time unless you dig right out and do the base,” Mr Kelly said.

However, Mr Zadow said when done correctly, patching asphalt roads is a cheaper fix for potholes and other issues, and the key is to not just fill a small section.

“I always patch more than just the hole. It’s like having a sore you don’t just put a little patch on it, you cover the whole thing,” Mr Zadow said.

“You gotta keep at it. If you see a piece of road going you put a coat over it. It’s called preventative maintenance,” he said.

Senior project engineer for Southern Program Alliance, 29-year-old, Michael Clegg, agreed saying patch jobs are not effective if more asphalt is just poured on top.

“It’s not going to bind so it’s going to pop out over time. It will be a joint and a weak point,” Mr Clegg said.

Experienced project manager Michael Clegg said Victoria will always have asphalt roads. Photo Samantha McCombe.

The topic of the Victorian government’s commitment to the maintenance of regional roads in the state was mentioned in the Legislative Council Question Time at Parliament House in February.

During question time, Mark Gepp, Minister for Northern Victoria, asked Jaala Pulford, the Minister for Roads, to provide an update on the “Victorian government’s commitment to regional road maintenance”.

When responding to the question, Minister for Roads Ms Pulford said she recognised how “important road maintenance is for regional communities”.

Additionally, in a recent media release, Ms Pulford said the government was “investing in regional Victoria” and fixing “some of the worst roads in the south west”.

With rural asphalt roads becoming damaged only months after being repaired, local road users such as Mr Kelly, said they were curious about alternative road surfaces.

“Asphalt develops ruts causing vehicles to wander. I think all major highways should be concrete,” Mr Kelly said. “I think long term it would be more cost effective than patching.”

Mr Clegg recognised the many benefits of concrete, however, he said that he believes Victoria will always have asphalt roads.

“In Victoria we have asphalt. Once you build up that skill set in a certain thing it’s easier and cheaper to build on that skill set,” Mr Clegg said.

According to Mr Zadow, his local roads have black clay soil that shrinks and expands, which would most likely result with concrete cracking, therefore not making it a viable solution.