A backlog of roads repairs has increased by more than $200 million in a year, bringing the total bill for outstanding maintenance in NSW to more than $5 billion.
The NSW opposition spokeswoman for roads, maritime and freight, Jodi McKay, said the maintenance backlog had doubled in three years. “Five billion dollars is a lot of potholes and cracked footpaths,” she said.
“Motorists are spending more time stuck driving on rundown roads.”
The NSW Auditor-General’s latest transport report shows the road maintenance backlog has grown from $2.7 billion in 2012-13 to $5.1 billion in 2013-14 and $5.3 billion in 2014-15. The report also shows travel speeds have declined.
The average travel time in afternoon peak hour traffic is 103 seconds per kilometre, an increase from 96 seconds in 2012-13.
The average travel time during the morning peak hour also increased from 93 seconds per kilometre to 95 seconds over the same period.
The recently updated business case for the WestConnex motorway, linking Sydney’s south-west to Sydney Airport and Port Botany, indicates the project will also encourage more traffic on roads.
The project is expected to generate 45,000 extra car trips on an average weekday by 2031.
The 319-page business case has also revealed the cost of the 33-kilometre project has blown out to almost $17 billion.
The cost has steadily increased from $10 billion since it was announced in 2012.
The WestConnex motorway is part-funded by the federal and state governments which have committed only $4.3 billion to the project, now costed at $16.8 billion.
The entire motorway is expected to open in 2023 and construction to widen the M4 between Parramatta and Concord has already started.
The Minister for Roads, Duncan Gay, said the Coalition government’s average annual investment in roads and bridges maintenance was 21 per cent higher, compared to the former Labor government’s average yearly spending.
“I’m surprised the travel time isn’t higher – we are frustrated, motorists are frustrated which is why we are building game-changing projects like WestConnex and NorthConnex to get motorists out of congestion and home to their families sooner,” Mr Gay said.
Mr Gay said it was encouraging the Auditor-General had found the overall ride quality on NSW roads had improved and achieved the “Good Ride Quality target one year ahead of forecast”.
“WestConnex is the first NSW motorway to consider induced demand, which provides an even more robust forecast of traffic volumes,” Mr Gay said
“It is estimated on an average weekday in 2031, less than half a percent (only 0.4 per cent) of the total number of daily car trips across Sydney will be new road trips or trips redeployed from public transport as a result WestConnex.
“The updated WestConnex investment does not reflect a cost blowout, rather it reflects a new and improved project with additional extras.”
“A blowout is if you planned to build a 12 storey apartment building for $140 million and that same building cost you $170 million. What we have done with WestConnex is take that $140 million 12 storey building added three floors, more car parking, an extra lift and a swimming pool for a revised cost of $170 million.”
The NSW Auditor-General has reported that a $2.4 billion increase in the roads maintenance backlog between 2012-13 and 2013-14 after road corridors and traffic systems were included in the figures for the first time.
The Auditor-General has said asset maintenance is essential to ensure “optimal management of physical assets”.