Dodging Potholes Has Councillors Posing Questions

Some areas of Port Stephens roads look like patchwork quilts with generations of repairs layered one over the other. Photo: Marian Sampson.

RECENT weather has wreaked havoc upon roads across Port Stephens.

Potholes are in some cases appearing for the first time and in other cases the potholes that Council has previously repaired are back.

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For people in some areas driving is now akin to a session of dodgem cars as vehicles slow and weave around hazards.

For others it has proved costly with serious damage to vehicles where potholes have not been avoided.

While “drive to the conditions” is the mantra at all times, frustration levels are high.

Areas of potholes which were extensively repaired last year are back, such as along Government Road at Shoal Bay.

Port Stephens Councillor Leah Anderson told News Of The Area, “As new councillors, Jason Wells from Central Ward and I have been asking staff a lot of questions about the state of our roads.

“We are residents and ratepayers too, and we need to understand why our roads have so many potholes, and how much money it costs to fix them,” said Cr Anderson.

“We also need a better understanding of the cost to reseal roads, and why some roads are prioritised over others.

“Jason and I went out with council staff last Friday to have a look at different types of roads, and different types of potholes,” she said.

“We are not engineers and so there was a lot of information to absorb.

“I feel the community does not have a good enough understanding about why some of the roads in our LGA are still waiting to be repaired, and the millions of dollars required to fix them properly.

“I have asked Council to put together some information we can share to provide transparency about the situation, and what the cost of the overall road rehabilitation is going to cost,” she said.

“I know that residents will still not be happy until all of the roads are repaired and all of the potholes are permanently fixed.

“I also know there are hundreds of councils out there with the same road problems and the same pressures and lack of money to get them all up to standard.

“As new councillors we are not turning our back to this issue, we are listening to our community, we are providing transparency on the situation, and we will be advocating for more money to go into our roads budgets so we can see council put more permanent repairs in place, rather than just temporary measures,” said Anderson.

There is a direct correlation between the severe weather events and the condition of our roads.

There are now concerns a third or triple-dip La Nina will occur.

The Australian Research Council tells us, “A third consecutive La Niña in the Australian spring of 2022 would be a concerning development for Australians, according to researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes.”

“La Niña has been on the mind of many Australians for two years in a row,” said Dr Zoe Gillett, Centre Research Fellow.

“La Niña is an ocean temperature and wind pattern across the Pacific Ocean.

“It has global impacts and promotes increased rainfall over much of Australia.

“Eastern Australia has experienced extreme rainfall and flooding associated with La Niña for two consecutive summers,” the Council said.

“These events have affected entire communities across large parts of the country and impacted our agriculture and supply chains,” it said.

“La Niña in two consecutive summers – what we call a double-dip La Niña – is not uncommon and happens in about 50 per cent of events.

“This persistence can increase climate risks due to increased rain falling on already saturated catchments.

“As of June, four out of seven forecasting models are predicting La Niña will return in late spring,” the Council said.

“The possibility of more rain falling on already saturated catchments would be a concerning development for communities still recovering,” said Dr Gillett.

What does this mean for Port Stephens?

Potentially more rain and more potholes and more money needed to effectively repair our roads.


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