Road repairs throughout the Shire
Jun 27 2018
The Shire of Ashburton is about to embark on a 12 month project to repair roads damaged by storm activity that has occurred in the last two years. The value of the projects are $21,000,000 and affect 24 roads and over 1,000 km! This is a significant undertaking, across the whole of the Shire, so encompasses an area nearly half the size of Victoria.
While the repair and improvement of our roads is a positive outcome we are impacted by very strict perimeters set by the Federal Government under the Western Australia Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (WANDRRA). Under these rules, local governments are required to repair only those sections of roads that can be proven to have been impacted by the specific rain event. The result is that the Shire cannot simply start at the beginning of the road and keep going until that whole road is complete.
So how does this work and why can’t we just combine the funding and fix the roads simultaneously?
Local Governments can apply to have major damage caused by natural weather events funded through WANDRRA. Similar to an insurance claim, these ‘events’ are clarified, confirmed and assessed through a number of agencies, Office of Emergency Management and Main Roads WA, so this takes a reasonable amount of time. Once funding is approved, the Local Government is then required to go out to tender to appoint contractors and plan a schedule of works. Under the WANDRRA agreement, funding can only be used for areas affected in that particular claim. So when you have a scenario, as we do in the Shire, that involves multiple WANDRRA claims over very large areas, the schedule of works is extremely complex.
In circumstance for the Shire of Ashburton, we had a significant storm even in early 2017 which caused substantial damage to our road network. The funding claim was approved, contracts awarded and works commenced. Then, we had significant storm number two earlier this year (2018), which damaged roads in the same areas as storm number one but different sections of the road. So now we have two funding claims for damage on the same roads. But, the WANDRRA rules dictate we can’t fix them simultaneously. We can only fix damages caused by the 2017 storm with the 2017 claim money, and we can’t fix the second round of storm damage until the storm 2 claim is funded and contracts let.
As the extensive schedule of works progress over the next 12 months it may appear as though the Shire is fixing the roads in an illogical manner but, to break these rules, would jeopardise $21m and the road repairs would then need to be funded by other sources of income including rate payers.
While the WANDRRA claims process has been progressing through government, and while the works are undertaken, the Shire of Ashburton is acutely aware of the needs of our pastoralists. Hence where possible, we have been conducting spot repairs and grading to ensure the roads remain useable and allow for the movement of stock and necessary travel. This is an extra expense to the Shire, but one we deem necessary.
Over the next 12 months the Shire will have contractors out repairing the WANDDRA impacted roads and it may, in some areas, seem inefficient and frustrating. But we ask that you bear with us and trust that there is a bigger picture tothe issue and we are doing everything we can to ensure our road standards are improved.