Kempsey Shire Council considers upgrades to unsealed roads

Maria River Rd in April this year. Photo: Louise Roberts.
Maria River Rd in April this year. Photo: Louise Roberts.

At it’s most recent meeting, Kempsey Shire Council said it will consider conducting a cost benefit analysis for the construction and sealing of each of council’s unsealed roads that carry a traffic volume of more than 150 vehicles per day.

One of the problem roads that has raised significant community lobbying is Maria River Road – notorious for it’s poor condition. While council has plans to seal Maria River Road and Point Plomer Road as part of the Kempsey Council Delivery Program 2017-2021, there are other roads requiring sealing that aren’t included in the delivery program.

While council has plans to seal Maria River Road and Point Plomer Road as part of the Kempsey Council Delivery Program 2017-2021, there are other roads requiring sealing that aren’t included in the delivery program.

While council has plans to seal Maria River Road and Point Plomer Road as part of the Kempsey Council Delivery Program 2017-2021, there are other roads requiring sealing that aren’t included in the delivery program.

Councillors have been regularly advised that the cost to maintain a gravel road increases as traffic volumes increase, with the potential for a highly trafficked gravel road to be more expensive to maintain than a sealed road.

Each of council’s unsealed roads would need to be individually assessed.

Kempsey Local Government Area currently has several unsealed roads that have sections that need assessing to ensure long term maintenance costs are minimised.

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However, funding any proposed upgrades will be an issue according to a general manager’s report included in the agenda document.

“The actions resulting from the proposed recommendation are not in the current delivery program or operating plan. As council is aware staff are currently under extreme pressure to complete actions in the current delivery program and operating plan along with the additional volume of work required from staff in meeting the provision of information of the organisational restructure review process,” the statement read.

“The introduction of additional actions which are not resourced will result in the need to take resources away from current commitments and existing actions will need to be deferred. Reviewing the economic benefits of upgrading/sealing gravel roads is counter-productive unless more revenue is raised to fund proposals. Undertaking this work will build a level of community expectation that we cannot deliver on without obtaining increased funding.” 

It was said that additional benefits of upgrading unsealed roads includes the potential for further development in relevant areas, enhanced business opportunities, improved quality of life and enhanced safety.