Victoria’s roads are in deteriorating condition as vehicle usage is on the rise as the same time as maintenance spending is falling, the latest report says.

Releasing its latest report, the Victorian Auditor General’s Office (VAGO) says the proportion of the state’s roads which are classified as poor or very poor is increasing.

According to the report:

  • In 2015/16, 15 percent of pavement on roads is in very poor condition, up from 11 percent ten years earlier in 2005/06.
  • On a linear model basis, the percentage of the road (by network length) on which cracking has occurred sits at nearly 40 percent – up from not much more than 30 percent ten years earlier.
  • Whilst rutting has increased more slowly, ‘roughness’ is present on almost 20 percent of the road network – up from less than 15 percent ten years earlier.
  • Over the past ten years, cracking has more than doubled in the South-Western (up 143 percent) and Eastern (up 118 percent) regions and has nearly doubled in the Metropolitan North West region (up 94 percent).

In its report, the Auditor General found that the state’s roads are being impacted by a combination of heavier vehicles and growing traffic volumes – which have increased by 9.4 percent since 2007.

Simultaneously, it said real levels of funding for road maintenance had been falling by 60 percent since 2011.

In addition, VAGO hit out at VicRoads, the state road manager, for adopting a reactive rather than proactive approach to maintenance across the network.

“The increasing proportion of the state road network in very poor condition presents a growing risk to public safety and increases road user costs,” VAGO said.

“Not enough funding is allocated to road maintenance to sustain the road network, but VicRoads also cannot demonstrate clearly that it is making the best use of its existing maintenance funds. Its approach to road pavement maintenance is reactive, with maintenance generally being carried out only when it becomes critical.

“Targeted early intervention to prevent roads from needing more costly and extensive maintenance has been limited. This approach has not kept up with the rate of deterioration of road pavements across the network.”

Responding to the report, VicRoads chief executive officer John Merritt described the report as a reflection of past rather than current approach undertaken by the agency.

Much of Victoria’s arterial network, Merritt said, was built in the 19402 and 50s where the largest truck on the road weighted 40 tonnes.

Those same roads today could be taking over 80 tonnes, he said.

“We thank the Auditor General for his report into our past maintenance practices and we’re pleased that the Auditor General’s recommendations support the reform program and actions VicRoads already has underway,” Merritt said.

“This audit reflects a past approach and we are well advanced in a reform program that is transforming the way we plan and deliver road maintenance across Victoria.”

“We have a state-wide system in place to drive the best investment decisions based on a strategic view of the network.”