A word from the Mayor - February 2024 update

Just over 18 months since the last major flood, Council’s commitment to repair our weather-damaged roads remains resolute, as does our promise to keep the community updated on our progress.

Our infrastructure repair teams have made significant progress into what is a huge backlog of damaged roads – some $177 million worth of roads directly damaged by floodwaters and landslides, as well as deteriorated roads from the incessant wet conditions between 2020 and 2022.

Everyone at Council – including myself – is aware that road repair and maintenance is by far the number one issue for residents. Not only does Council receive more online notifications and phone calls to customer service about roads than any other matter each week, I receive feedback daily from ratepayers on the streets and on social media.

A popular misconception is that Council is doing nothing to repair roads, or that we simply don’t care. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Between 2018 and 2023, our annual roads maintenance expenditure increased by 129% from $4.759 million to $10.917 million. Already up to January in this financial year we have spent $10.055 million and there are still five months to go.

Road maintenance expenditure graph

Our road capital expenditure – which is the amount we spend on building new, replacing or upgrading roads, has also exponentially increased. In 2018 we spent $3.3 million. In 2023 it was $15.03 million – a 354% increase. This financial year we have so far spent $30.96 million – more than double again over last year with five months still to go. A significant majority of this money has come from state and federal funding programs – the rest from Council’s annual budget.

Road capital expenditure graph

And when we look at the total spend, across all types of activities on roads, between 2017/18 and 2023/24 (with five months still to go), Council has increased its annual expenditure by $33 million, a 242% increase.

All roads expenditure graph

So where is this money being spent? The Hawkesbury local government area is huge and geographically diverse. We have 1063km of roads – 20 per cent of which were significantly damaged by floods. Many of these roads are in regions and communities far away from the urban centres around Windsor and Richmond where many of you live and work each day. For these regional residents, their roads are often the only way in or out; they’re also often higher speed roads in more difficult terrain which increases risks to motorists.

That is why we as a Council chose to prioritise the repair of roads in places like the Macdonald Valley, Colo and Lower Portland ahead of roads in Windsor and Richmond, which have numerous road routes to choose from. The reconstruction of Greens Road at Lower Portland and the replacement of Upper Colo Bridge are good examples of this, but are far from the only ones. The current reconstruction of the heritage Thomas James Bridge on Settlers Road is another prime example. These are road repairs that very few of our residents see, but are critical links to our regional communities.

Another misconception is that Council should cease all other works and focus on the roads instead. This would not deliver road repairs faster, and would only be detrimental to local sporting teams, families, and local wildlife that rely on us to fix and upgrade sporting fields, playgrounds, footpaths and our open spaces – indispensable parts of the fabric that makes the Hawkesbury a great place to live. Another consideration is that a significant amount of this money was provided through government funding programs to deliver a specific project and can’t be redirected to roads.

So what now? Thankfully, statewide demand for road repair contractors and road repair materials – which severely constrained our ability to make significant early progress on repairs - is easing, meaning our progress on road repairs will speed up, including in our more urban areas. We have a package of 22 sealed roads that have just finished the legally-required tendering process and work will commence in the next couple of months. A further 62 sealed roads have funding approval. Repairs on 37 minor landslips are drawing to a close and we’ll be commencing the reconstruction of 40 major landslips over the coming months. You will definitely see a dramatic increase in roadworks on roads near you very soon.

But even with this record expenditure, we know that there are many more roads which require repair works and until these can be funded, our crews are out and about every day of the week inspecting them and undertaking maintenance within the budget and resources available to them.

Our Renewing Hawkesbury’s Roads hub on Council’s website is the source of truth for our road repairs program. It is updated daily with road maintenance projects, and weekly for road repairs. It also includes an interactive map. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to explore it and to check back regularly for updates. If you see a roads issue that isn’t on our list, please report it at Mentioning it on Facebook doesn’t mean we will see it – even if you tag Council.

I thank everyone for their continued patience as we continue to work hard to deliver a safe and reliable road network.

Hawkesbury City Mayor Sarah McMahon

Page ID: 221149

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