By Raquel Mustillo
MOTORISTS who incur damage to their vehicles as a result of pothole damage should be eligible for compensation from the State Government, Mount Gambier MP Troy Bell says.
Mr Bell branded the state of roads across the electorate and the broader Limestone Coast as an “absolute disgrace” after sections have failed to cope with recent rains and a lack of maintenance.
The independent MP said he had been contacted by a number of constituents about the deteriorating road network, many of whom have reported vehicle damage.
“I have personally inspected the roads after people have written to my office and they are extremely dangerous,” Mr Bell said.
“Carpenter Rocks Road has just had work done and it’s already deteriorating.
“People have highlighted the road past the airport on the way to Tarpeena and the road to Millicent as being extremely dangerous.
“Even thoroughfares like Bay Road, which don’t get a lot of heavy traffic, are deteriorating.
“People who have had their cars damaged because of the condition of the roads should be able to access a level of compensation.”
Mount Gambier resident Taneesha Howard – who hit a pothole while driving on Penola Road and damaged two tyres – said had sought compensation from the Transport Department but was unsuccessful because she “did not report the hole before the day”.
“I was told that basically they would fill the hole, but I couldn’t receive any compensation because they didn’t know about the hole soon enough, despite me calling on the very day I was made aware of its existence by hitting it,” she said.
“They just expected me to do nothing and fix my car on my own accord and out of my own pocket.
“I’ve had no choice by to fix my car myself, I ended up paying roughly $350.”
Wattle Range Council has penned a three-page letter to Infrastructure and Transport Minister Corey Wingard about the state-owned road network, saying that there appeared to be no-one on the ground in the Limestone Coast to monitor and manage the “appalling” state of the roads.
Hours after The Border Watch published a story on the condition of State Government roads in the Wattle Range region, the council received advice from the Transport Department of their intention to undertake approximately $5.8m of road reconstruction and asphalt sealing on a number of priority roads in the region.
Mile Hill Road, Mount Burr Road, Springs Road, the Overland Track and Kangaroo Flat have been floated by the department, with almost 27km of road either being reconstructed or having an overlay treatment.
However, the works are scheduled for 2022/23, meaning the amounts have not been budgeted.
Wattle Range Council chief executive Ben Gower said while council was appreciative of the advice, there were decades worth of work to be done to clear the backlog.
“That funding, if we are to receive it, will address around 10pc of the works that need to be done on the State Government roads,” he said.
“By the time the works are done on those sections, more upgrades will need to be done anyway.
“What we need is work to be done in a more sustainable way compared to the short-term solutions we see now.”
In a statement, Mount Gambier City Council chief executive Sarah Philpott said staff were meeting with the Infrastructure and Transport Department next month and said road and stormwater drainage maintenance on state arterial roads in the city would be canvassed.
“Council wishes to work with the Infrastructure and Transport Department to ensure appropriate strategies and timeframes are in place so necessary road maintenance is undertaken in a timely manner,” Ms Philpott said.
But Mr Bell said not only was urgent funding required to undertake maintenance work, but an investigation was also needed to determine why the roads had deteriorated so quickly.
“It’s certainly an issue I will be taking up in parliament and intend to ask questions this week to the responsible member,” he said.
“I fully endorse Wattle Range Council’s advocacy on this and I believe it’s good to see councils being proactive and lobbying the State Government to address the issue.”
Member for MacKillop Nick McBride – who has also received Wattle Range Council’s letter and accompanying 23 photos – said he would continue to lobby for more regional road infrastructure and maintenance funding.
“I understand the concerns Wattle Range Council has raised and I think the photos provide a great visual of the condition of some of the roads,” he said.
“I support the department recommending the $5.8m on roads, but I also support more because of the roads that have been highlighted, the Princes Highway hasn’t even been mentioned.”
The Transport Department has been contacted for comment, but was unable to provide a response ahead of deadline.