MITCHELL Shire’s road network is again in the spotlight after council recently approved a draft road management plan for public consultation.
The draft plan will govern the management of and decisions relating to the shire’s roads, including 700 kilometres of sealed roads, 714 kilometres of unsealed roads, 316 kilometres of sealed and unsealed footpaths, 67 vehicle bridges and 41 pedestrian bridges.
Councillors praised a range of new requirements set out in the draft plan, including an increase of council footpath inspections from once to twice a year and the intervention threshold for corrugations on unsealed roads being reduced from 100 millimetres to 75 millimetres .
Cr Louise Bannister said the plan reflected council’s commitment to doing more to maintain the region’s roads.
“Roads and footpaths are high priority for our council, and as a large rural council we have a lot of roads,” she said.
“We also have a lot of areas with footpaths, and this vast area has a small workforce to maintain it.
“This [road management plan] takes some great steps to further increasing the useability and condition of our roads and footpaths.
“I think we’ve taken some great steps for a shire as large as it is to really be getting on top of our roads.”
While the majority of councillors voted to release the plan for public consultation, Cr Bill Chisholm was opposed.
Cr Chisholm said council still had not allocated enough money for the maintenance of roads.
“I fully acknowledge that council have definitely made some improvements on the last roads maintenance plan and some of the intervention levels have definitely dropped, but overall there is no way known I can support this document because the capital works expenditure on roads is way below what it should be,” he said.
“On page [six] it says current resourcing levels are not indicative of the investment levels required. That’s in council speak telling you that we’re not putting enough into our roads budgets.
“We’re significantly underinvesting and we’re going to leave a big legacy for councils in future, so I definitely can’t support this.”
Cr Bannister encouraged people to provide feedback on the draft plan by visiting engagingmitchellshire.com/rmp-survey or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. People can download the full plan through the Engaging Mitchell Shire portal.
“If there are specific areas – specific footpaths or specific roads – get in contact with council and let them know,” Cr Bannister said.
“Also, if there is anything in this document that you don’t understand and you would like to know more, get in contact with council.
“Consultation is not just about offering something, you’re also invited to come and discuss the document further so you get a better understanding.”