Like most things in life, we only see the end product and have little knowledge of how products and services are designed and built from start to finish. A good example of this is our road network. Often the only time we think about the condition of our roads is when we hit a pothole or the surface is not easy to drive on.
At the February meeting, Council’s Manager Engineering Works gave a great presentation to Councillors and members of the community on the challenges faced in maintaining our vast road network – 1,183 kilometres of sealed and unsealed roads.
The presentation was an opportunity for Councillors and the public to understand the work processes and issues faced by our engineers and road crews, and how vital judgement and experience are in assessing the state of a road before work begins.
Our engineers rely on technical testing of the layers below the road surface to decide on what will be the best approach. They also take into account the quality of soil and gravel underneath the surface; the impact of water which weakens the pavement structure; the age and construction of the road; and the pavement strength needed to combat heavy vehicle and high traffic areas.
There are big differences in the cost of how we maintain and upgrade our roads, and Council engineers weigh up the options carefully to deliver the best value for money for our Shire. Using good geo-technical advice, they determine whether patching and resealing is required, or if a section of road needs stabilisation work, or in extreme cases, a full road reconstruction is necessary.
In 2015-16 we spent around $9 million in strengthening our aged and extensive road network, but it is still an uphill battle to meet community expectations on roads.
Our comprehensive 10-year road improvement works program provides the framework, but the day-to-day management of the works program falls to our Council engineers and road crews to deliver safer and better roads throughout our valley.