Funding for rural roads key to safer driving

The Western Australian Farmers Federation (Inc.) (WAFarmers) is calling for increased funding for Western Australia’s rapidly deteriorating rural road network, as part of its long term plan for a viable agricultural sector.

Over the last three years, despite some funding increases, the State and Federal Governments are spending on average, about 42 per cent of what is required to sustain the road network, throughout most of the South-Western land-division.

WAFarmers President, Dale Park, said in practical terms, if those levels of funding support were to continue, the useful life of roads would reduce by more than 85 per cent in the next decade.

“Roads are a vitally important asset to this State, and the lack of funding by the State Government is detrimental to road safety,” Mr Park said.

“Some local governments in rural areas would need to spend more than 100 per cent of their total shire revenue, just to maintain the status quo.

“The wear and tear on rural roads is much higher than those in Perth. The state average of 3.1 per cent is eclipsed by the wheatbelt shires’ 4.4 per cent, which is more than double that of the metropolitan rate of road consumption of 2.1 per cent.”

Mr Park said the formula used to allocate road funding was flawed due to the changing population.

“The formula used by State and Federal Governments in ascertaining required funding levels, is population based, and hence, the regional shires with falling populations attempt to inject extra funds to make up the difference, albeit unsuccessful, due to the financial pressure on these local communities,” he said.

“This is not sustainable and more funding is required to maintain our aging road network.”

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