Ratepayers to have say on “unfit” roads

Federation Council’s engineering chief Steve Carmichael has indicated the new roads advisory committee will have a greater say on how often unsealed roads, such as Fergusons Road Corowa, are graded.

Ratepayers will have a greater say on the upgrade of Federation Council’s “unfit” roads with the introduction of a new committee.

Following recent concerns about the condition of local roads by ratepayers, Federation Council has reintroduced the opportunity for community members to have an active role in helping improve the municipality’s road network.

Federation Council Mayor Pat Bourke said the revival of a Roads Advisory Committee, established in the previous term of council, provided a great opportunity to bring together community members with an interest in the roads network and relevant road authority representatives.

“The poor condition of rural roads has been a big focus in recent engagement opportunities with our community and council remains committed to working with our residents to achieve better outcomes for our road network,” Mayor Bourke said.

“This committee will provide great advice and input to council on areas such as the roads hierarchy, funding priorities, and will allow the community to have greater visibility over road maintenance.

“Other business representatives such as trucking, school bus companies, and larger industries heavily reliant on the road network such as dairies and feedlots, will also have the opportunity to meet as opportunities present.”

Last month, around 100 people attended a public meeting in Coreen to discuss their concerns with council applying for a Special Rate Variation (SRV) to increase rates by 60 per cent over the next four years while failing to meet the minimum standards in road maintenance.

Their concerns centered around the crumbling road network unable to cope with modern day agricultural needs, school routes, emergency service access and everyday travel needs.

The meeting was followed by a large gathering outside the council chamber at the June 28 council meeting where ratepayers hoped council would reconsider the rate hike.

Poor quality rural roads dominated the roadshow sessions across the council area during the draft budget consultation in June.

Federation Council’s acting director engineering services Leigh Ashford said at the Corowa session many of the roads built 40 or 60 years ago or longer have the original road surface. “They have deteriorated, with more usage and record crops, including the last two consecutive record crops. Many roads are not fit for trucks,” he said.

At council’s monthly meeting in July, councillors endorsed director engineering services Steve Carmichael’s Transport Asset Management Plan which outlined plans for road maintenance and traffic assets within the approved budget for council’s 583 kilometres of sealed local roads and 950 kilometres of unsealed roads.

Cr Aaron Nicholls enquired about the level of contribution members of the Advisory Committee would have on municipality’s road network once the group was established.

“Given there’s a degree of discretion and transparency needed for the Advisory Committee, how much involvement, or where is there involvement in this plan?” Cr Nicholls asked.

Mr Carmichael suggested that the newly formed committee may decide how often council grades roads.

“We don’t want them having a say which day and that sort of thing, that will be left to the operational side, but they may decide that school bus routes need grading three times a year,” he said.

“If that’s the general consensus of this group, and council can afford to pay for it, it would be reflected back in these (Transport Asset Management Plan) documents.”

With the formation of the Roads Advisory Committee, it is hoped there will be an equal representation from across the shire with two members of the public to represent each quadrant of the council area, meaning eight representatives in total.

Initially the Roads Advisory Committee will focus on the following priority areas:

• Rural Roads

• Roads to key industries

• Transport Asset Management Plans

• Road Hierarchy

• Service Levels

The Committees’ objectives are to:

• Develop and review the principles underlying the provision of the road network within the Council area – Road Hierarchy network.

• Monitor and provide information/advice to Council in relation to the issues arising out Council’s Road network.

• Review strategies and provide advice to Council and staff regarding the management, maintenance, service levels, renewal and upgrading of roads within the council area.

• Review and provide advice on the downgrading or closing of roads within the Council Area.

Residents interested in being part of the committee were encouraged to complete the online form or submit a paper copy form available from council offices in Corowa, Howlong, Mulwala and Urana.

Expressions of Interest nominations were open until Monday, August 1, 2022. Visit