The backlog of overdue maintenance on the state road network remains at similar levels to 2009, with an estimated total cost of $845 million in 2016. The average age and the proportion of the road network past its design life has increased, with 46% of the network now over 40 years old compared with 32% in our 2009 report.
Overall, Main Roads’ approach to maintenance is still reactive, doing maintenance as it becomes critical. Targeted early intervention to prevent roads from needing more costly and extensive maintenance is limited. As the complexity and cost of maintenance increases, less can be done within the available funding, and so the backlog increases.
There have been some improvements. Recent additional investment in resurfacing some parts of the network to prevent further deterioration has helped Main Roads to curb growth in the maintenance backlog. Main Roads has also improved its collection of information about the cost and delivery of road maintenance activities, which allows it to monitor contractor performance more effectively.
However, Main Roads has not yet used this better information to shift its strategy from reactive to preventative maintenance. While funding levels and the need to conduct critical repairs are key considerations, without a change in strategy, there is a significant risk that road condition will deteriorate and the maintenance backlog will rise.