Close call sparks push to repair central Victorian roads

POTHOLES and dangerous road surfaces will continue to deteriorate unless the government restores funding to VicRoads, one motorist has warned.

Greg Brown was in a near-crash on Christmas Day riding his motorbike from his Maldon home to Coldstream, east of Melbourne.

The close call with a four-wheel-drive that swerved to avoid a pothole and almost knocked him off his bike, prompted his campaign for better road surfaces.

Mr Brown is urging people to send photos of roads in disrepair to the state’s transport minister in order to generate a renewed focus on road maintenance and reverse the government budget cuts to VicRoads. “We need to make the government aware that roads are literally falling apart,” he said. 

“I drove about 440 kilometres of mostly rural roads on Christmas Day and was shocked by the state of them.

“There are constant messages of road safety, but that should surely start with safe roads.”

With the high level of traffic on regional roads over the Christmas period, Mr Brown said it would not take much for small bumps and uneven road surfaces to contribute to crashes.

“You see it every day on back roads through Maldon, Trentham, Castlemaine, Daylesford, and up to Bendigo. I’m sure everyone has horror stories with potholes.

“The disappointing thing is that we used to have good roads. It’s gotten a lot worse in recent months. The local road network is crumbling.

“There’s the wet weather and the repairs to flood-damaged roads VicRoads have had to do, but it’s no excuse to leave the rest of the road network in disrepair.”

Budget cuts to VicRoads are expected to cost as many as 450 jobs and hinder road repaving commitments over the next year.

A VicRoads spokeswoman said the budget cuts were “quarantined to not affect frontline staff,” and that maintenance work would continue as planned. 

Plans to fix flood-affected roads were allocated funding with a recent $45 million announcement from the state government.

“The funding is being used to address the poor condition of some of Victoria’s roads, which has been exacerbated by wet weather over the past two years,” the spokeswoman said.

She said VicRoads was working hard with local communities to identify the roads that need repairing and that the network was regularly inspected to ensure roads were in a safe condition.

Mr Brown said people had become too complacent with the state of roads.

“I’d like to see an ongoing campaign looking at the real problem of shoddy roads,” he said.

“Motorists pay a lot in state taxes. I think all people want is to have our roads fixed.”

He said people who saw a pothole or dangerous road surface should email a photograph to Transport Minister Terry Mulder at terence.mulder@parliament.vic.gov.au and ask for a reply on what could be done about it.

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