Road funding must remain a priority

Road funding in Australia should be at the very top of Government priorities if we are to leap forward in development. As part of its election campaign, the Abbott Government promised to fast track many road projects; but considering the state of the economy, one wonders just when we will see a major investment in what is an ailing highway network.

We are seeing substantial gains made on major routes, notably the Hume and Pacific Highways, where completed works have not only made travel safer, but also delivered significant savings in trip times and given transport operators improved fuel economy – yet there is a long way to go in other areas.

Initially, roads in Australia were developed mainly for trade, but recent decades and a changing lifestyle have seen an incredible lift in road use for tourism, which is directly impacting on road conditions. Plus, we have seen weather impact severely on the very routes we drive too.

In a word, many of our major highways are dangerous – a fact recognised by Government agencies – yet the money pot does not contain enough to solve all of our problems in the short term and it will take some time before solutions are implemented.

Our heavy truck fleet, the lifeline of this country, negotiates some incredibly poor road networks and operators across the land all have stories of vehicle damage. One operator revealed a disturbing example of steer tyre damage when his truck struck a pothole on the Newell Highway.

The driver immediately felt a change in vehicle behaviour and pulled over to find a section of tread had broken away from the centre of the tyre. With a stroke of luck the affected area was at the top of the tyre when he stopped and understandably, he breathed a sigh of relief. Had he carried on it would have blown, possibly with tragic consequences.

And it was a tyre that had been fitted just days before! This is not an isolated incident and reinforces the fact that there is an on-going need to address problems with our road. The location of the pothole was reported and it was repaired quickly, but the outcome could have been a disaster.

The holiday season is now upon us, and let us hope we see a reduction in road trauma. We all know people do not adjust to road conditions, so improved highways – including the very busy Pacific over the Christmas period – should realise fewer accidents. This will also point out an investment in roads does indeed improve safety.

Hopefully Mr Abbott will deliver on his election promise sooner than later.

To all Prime Mover readers, we wish you and your families a very happy and safe Christmas holiday period. Thank you for your support in 2013 and it is hoped next year will be rewarding for all.

 

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