Federal Labor will provide $60 million over the next four years to substantially eliminate the growing backlog in road maintenance across the Central Coast Council region. This will improve amenity and safety for road users across the Central Coast Council region.
The almost 350,000 people who call the Central Coast Council region their home are significantly more dependent on cars to live and work than people in nearby Sydney. In 2016, over 70 per cent of people from the Central Coast travelled to work by motor vehicle, against less than 60 per cent for Greater Sydney. In addition, 23 per cent of employed residents travel outside the region for work.
The Central Coast Council region has challenging geography that includes beaches, significant lakes, hinterland and national parks. It is serviced by one main national highway (the Pacific Highway) and a heavy train line that links north to Newcastle and south to Sydney.
For its part, the newly amalgamated council is responsible for maintaining over 2,200km of roads – an extensive network relative to many other regions – and with limited transport alternatives, these roads are vital to everyday life for residents on the Central Coast.
Years of underinvestment have seen a significant backlog in roads needing repairs, renewal and upgrades.
The current backlog is estimated by the NRMA to be $84 million, having increased from $80.2 million in 2014-15 (NRMA estimate, January 2019). Significantly, the NRMA report shows that the Central Coast Council region has the highest backlog task of any NSW council region, given normal levels of government funding. The NRMA has calculated the Central Coast Council region’s deficit to funding ratio as 4.66 years, against a state average of 2.7 years.
This issue was highlighted in local media in January 2019, with the Central Coast Advocate highlighting the NRMA findings.
A subsequent NRMA Rate Your Road Survey identified the following five roads as being the worst on the Central Coast:
This project has three clear aims:
The Central Coast Council has developed a list of priority roads for upgrade, renewal and new construction. This ranges from resurfacing and guttering to brand new roads.
This proposal would allocate $60 million to bring forward this schedule of works into the forward estimates rather than taking over a much longer period.
The purpose of this regional road fund would be to bring the delivery of these projects forward to the next few years.
These funds are in addition to increases in Roads to Recovery and related road funding announced in the Federal Budget, which Labor supports.