Goulburn Mulwaree Council will undoubtedly have its say on a state government road review aimed at easing the cost burden on communities, Mayor Bob Kirk says.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro this week announced the establishment of an expert panel to identify up to 15,000 kilometres of council-managed roads in rural and regional areas to hand back to the state government.
"Everyone in a regional area has a story about a road that isn't up to scratch and turns their knuckles white when driving on it - and that isn't good enough," Mr Barilaro said.
"This project is even more important now, with the drought and bushfires heavily impacting regional councils. Road maintenance is something they shouldn't have to manage on their own."
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The review, to be chaired by NRMA president Wendy Machin, will consider the road classification system, recommend and prioritise roads for transfer to the state government.
Goulburn Mulwaree Council has been lobbying the Roads and Maritime Service for over 18 months to swap Auburn Street, a state road, for Sloane Street. The council argues this will give it more control over its main street, especially with beautification works, and formalise Sloane Street's use as a heavy vehicle route.
Cr Kirk said the thoroughfare had been used as such for many years, as opposed to the State's recognised route via Auburn Street.
But while the RMS has given in-principal approval, it previously baulked at the cost of what it said was a necessary upgrade for Sloane Street.
But Cr Kirk said the thoroughfare had stood up to heavy vehicles for many years.
"We're hoping to get RMS to see that they don't need to upgrade it and it's been doing the job. We don't seem to be able to get that across to them," he said.
"...(Their reason is) a tick a box process to say why they can't take it on."
He and council general manager Warwick Bennett will meet with RMS again in February to discuss this and other matters, including funding for a roundabout at the Crookwell Road/Marys Mount Road intersection.
Cr Kirk said talks regarding the Auburn Street swap had been delayed by RMS senior management changes.
More widely, the mayor believed some other roads could be handed back to the state, given their high usage.
Speaking generally, he said Goulburn's main entries, including Range, Gurrundah, Mountain Ash and Middle Arm Roads were local roads but usage had greatly increased with residential growth.
"These are no longer just primary production routes, which was what they were originally designed for," he said.
"There are a whole lot of lifestyle blocks out there and most homes have two or three cars. Then there is all the traffic associated with housing construction."
But other councils were in the same boat. The Mayor said Goulburn Mulwaree would provide feedback if there was a process.
Mr Toole said the panel would consult extensively with councils and other key stakeholders and provide a report by July, 2021 at the earliest. Members will meet this month to prepare a discussion paper and consultation strategy for public release soon after.
The draft Terms of Reference will be distributed to councils for their consideration and feedback.
"The demands on our roads are changing. As we open up more regional centres and provide better connectivity across the State, it is vital that the system for managing and maintaining the network is supporting local communities, freight operators and motorists," Mr Toole said.
The other panel members are: Peter Duncan AM, Jillian Kilby, John Roydhouse, Michael Kilgariff and Peter Tegart, Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council's general manager.
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