March 7, 2019
Gympie Regional Council has been urged to follow the South Burnett’s lead in the way it handles rural roads.
At Gympie Regional Council’s February meeting, Cr Hilary Smerdon and Cr Bob Fredman moved that the Council’s 1000km gravel road network be independently assessed to determine its real condition.
They also called for an examination of the Council’s current road maintenance methods.
The motion was supported by fellow councillors Hartwig and Stewart, but failed to secure the support of the remaining four councillors and Mayor Mick Curran.
Cr Smerdon said the South Burnett Regional Council had done a similar assessment and had changed the way it assessed roads, resulting in better standards for gravel roads.
“The assessment wasn’t a large spend and has resulted in their maintenance dollar being better spent,” he said.
Speaking to southburnett.com.au, Cr Smerdon said he was impressed by the strides the South Burnett had been making in addressing its rural road network over the past two years.
“My division has about 600km of our 1000km rural road network, and their condition is a source of constant complaints,” Cr Smerdon said.
“I can’t blame anyone for it but good roads are about the only thing rural ratepayers get for their rates, and many of them depend on roads for their livelihood.”
Cr Smerdon said a large proportion of Gympie Regional Council’s Budget was allocated to rural road maintenance, and this had been increased the last few years.
“You’d think this extra expenditure would result in an improvement to our gravel roads, resulting in less complaints,” he said.
“But in my view, this isn’t the case – certainly not in the western areas.”
Cr Smerdon said ongoing problems with rural roads in the Gympie Region had made him question current maintenance methods, and he believed it was time for the Council to re-examine its approach.
“I’ve talked with Cr Gavin Jones about the way the South Burnett is approaching your region’s rural roads, and I think we should look at doing the same thing,” Cr Smerdon said.
“The Road Condition Assessment System (RACAS) the South Burnett Council has started to use to assess road conditions is quick, scientific and impartial, and I’ve spoken to them, too.
“I believe we should be doing the same thing, and maybe looking at the some of the new ways the South Burnett is tackling road maintenance work.”
Cr Smerdon said other Gympie Councillors with rural roads shared similar views, and he hoped the motion might be passed at a future Council meeting.
“The current situation just isn’t working, so we should look at something that is and learn from it.”