Roads Australia (RA) is calling for a more strategic approach to road maintenance in order to improve the resilience of critical transport infrastructure, particularly in regional and remote communities.
Releasing RA’s submission to Federal Parliament’s Inquiry into the Implications of Severe Weather Events on the National Regional, Rural and Remote Road Network, RA CEO Michael Kilgariff said a spate of natural disasters over recent times highlights the need for greater focus on the resilience of road infrastructure.
“Our road network is under stress from a changing climate, increasing vehicle loading and an imperfect maintenance regime. A road network under stress is a less resilient road network.”
“This challenge is especially acute in regional and remote areas, where we’ve witnessed multiple instances where communities have been isolated and major supply chains massively disrupted because roads have been closed and even destroyed through fires and floods.”
“Roads previously designed with 100-year life spans, based on historical weather patterns, are simply not prepared for the impacts from our changing climate. This is clearly evidenced through the pothole epidemic, with some regions reporting a doubling in the occurrence of potholes during the past year. The road safety and economic implications of this situation are immense, especially in regional communities that do not have the resources to conduct effective repairs in a timely manner.”
“The increased number and severity of weather events over recent years, along with the increased number and physical size of vehicles providing critical freight services, means the Australian road community now has to rethink the previous views on the road networks’ exposure, vulnerability and acceptable condition.”
“This means developing fit-for-purpose design standards to lift the level of resilience on the strategically important sections of the road network, progressing the National Road Maintenance Backlog which Infrastructure Australia has previously identified as a priority project, and updating disaster funding criteria to allow for roads to be ‘built back better’ so they are more resilient to future severe weather events and disasters.”
“RA’s submission also calls for continued research into pavement technologies – particularly those that can improve the performance of local materials. The use of recycled materials is an important element of this research, to build on the success of the current use of waste materials in roads.”
“This will help to create a national road network that is not only more resilient, but also more sustainable.”