22nd November 2020 Roads!

Goodaye all. Am I the only one who has a problem with our roads and the way they are managed? We must all as I do, recognise we have a large country and a small population, we do not have the people to generate the taxes they do in the USA. We have wide open spaces so no state or district can be aware of every small road failure in all of their area and we cannot expect them to inspect thousands of kilometres of road each week.

With that as a start point, those who control the funding do little driving on our roads, their time is too valuable and they mostly fly. Those who distribute the funding you would hope, would have local knowledge, road building skill and understanding and common sense to ask and or learn if they do not have all the above. Biggest problem with common sense, is that it is not very common now.

Then why, from where I sit bouncing and banging along what is meant to be a National Highway, the Newell, which runs from Brisbane to Melbourne, having to travel on a road where some of the failures can have my wheels off the ground and or throw me around the cabin to the extent my seatbelt will allow, but that only limits the travel, not removes the impacts.

Yes we have generally better roads than we did in the past and yes, they are often wider, safer and carry much more traffic. Yes we have freeways and they deliver much of the city traffic to and from work. But our country depends on roads, not just for freight to and from everywhere to everywhere else, but so you can go visit Grandma and or have a holiday.

Trains do a good job moving bulk commodities and freight over long distances, Perth maybe and they tried to do Darwin and failed badly after spending millions of our dollars. I do believe that rail link should have been built during or immediately after the war, but what would I know. At one stage we had 28 different rail gauges in Australia, no wonder we don’t have as good a rail system as the USA. But no matter where the trains run, you need trucks at each end as no train a kilometre long will stop at the back of your supermarket, nor will it call into your farm to pick up your grain.

So for now, we need trucks. So if you want us to be able to deliver your freight at the cheapest cost, you have to have good roads, so our trucks can travel safely on them. My most recent question to all has been, why must trucks be road friendly, when roads are not truck friendly and why must we be fined for failures caused by the roads. We should be charging the road authorities for repairs, given the roads are meant to be safe, aren’t they?

I have been ringing road authorities for nearly 20 plus years making them aware of road failures. When I started, I was often told, we don’t get many truckies ring to tell us of these problems and so we often don’t know till our crews find them (and even that doesn’t always get things fixed either) but the truck I drive has the technology to graph and locate impacts into the truck, yet the road authorities will not recognise the data. Yes they may be scared it will mean they will have to accept the road has a problem and then find the money to fix it.

I do not ring about a divet the size of my palm, I ring when there is a failure, either badly built, badly repaired or simply, it has failed and I tell them for my safety, for your safety, so they know and can act accordingly to fix it in a timely manner and so that some poor bugger doesn’t come along and not being aware, hits the hole or irregularity and then goes under the front of another car or unsuspecting truckie who only went to work that day to feed his family and who will then invariably be dragged through court, even though the crash was not their fault and possibly have their lives and that of their families destroyed while it is all sorted out.

If lucky it will happen quickly when someone realises it was not the truckies fault, but at worst, it will drag on for months and destroy them and one day, they will be proved not guilty, but it will be too late for them then. This is a worse case, but I have been asking for over 5 years to get one section of road repaired and still it is not done. It is not the only issue, far from it, even the promoted new Dubbo bridge, which the community, the council and many others see as a half arsed cheap non solution to Dubbo’s current and future transport needs, is yet another issue where those who build and pay for it, from my point of view, simply won’t firstly properly consult those who will use it, nor will they listen to them when they disagree. How do you fix any of this? I would welcome your thoughts. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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