NSW councils are being urged to take immediate action to reduce the road toll on local government networks.
However, for councils to address road safety, they will need the support of the NSW and Australian governments, Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia NSW (IPWEA) president Warren Sharpe said.
A June 4 congress of the IPWEA NSW focused on the state’s local road network and moved to encourage councils to take advantage of the funded training in road safety auditing.
Mr Sharpe, who is also the Eurobodalla Shire Council Infrastructure Services Director, said 60 per cent of NSW council's would have trained road safety auditors by the end of the month.
Mr Sharpe said the institute’s goal was to increase local councils’ capacity to deal with road issues using their own resources.
“One of the primary things councils can do is develop a formal road safety plan. Across NSW 42 councils have completed a road safety plan, which is up from 17 last year. Things are moving in right direction,” he said.
“We, in conjunction with the NSW Government, have been training council’s to complete the road safety audits.
“By end of the year, we would hope most NSW councils will have trained staff in how to assess road safety on local road networks to give council officers a new lens when looking at their networks to determine appropriate treatments to address road safety.”
Once all councils have completed road safety audit training, the Institute would look for increased funding to help councils develop and implement their road safety plans.
“We will be looking to the state and federal governments to give and assist with greater funding through the black spots and fixing country roads programs. These are really important programs for councils to utilise to help address road safety issues,” Mr Sharpe said.
“We advocated very strongly to the NSW Government when they put out their initial draft Road Safety Plan 2021 and they have taken some of the things on board to recognise the role local government will need to play to get on top of road safety.”
NSW councils have more than 165,000 kilometres of road to maintain, Mr Sharpe said. He said more than half of road crashes occurred on these networks.
Advocating strongly for a “holistic approach” to road safety, Mr Sharpe said he wanted to see the Gerringong to Bomaderry highway upgrades replicated further south.
He welcomed the state government’s recent allocation of $10 million for highway upgrades between Nowra and Batemans Bay.
“That will assist in addressing some issues and is a good interim measure,” Mr Sharpe said.
“We would still say the state and federal governments should be working in partnership to deliver a road south of Nowra that is similar to what has been delivered from Gerringong to Bomaderry.
“The section of highway from the Kings Highway intersection to Mogo is also a hot spot they must treat, the Mad Mile in particular.”
Mr Sharpe said regional areas should not be missing out on funding, and would benefit more from $1 million than the city.
“If you are in Moree, and you get a couple of millimeters of rain, why should you not be able to get your kids to school on the road network? Those areas deserve better and we have suggested some outcomes to redistribute some of those funds from the city to regional NSW,” he said.
“If you put a couple of million into places like Moree or Narrabri, it will make more of an impact than giving it to Sydney City Council.”