The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has welcomed the Australian Government’s $150 million Remote Roads Upgrade Pilot Program, which will provide funding to councils to deliver safer and more productive roads.

Over 75 per cent of Australia’s road network by length – about 678,000km in total – is owned and managed by local governments, with 61 per cent of these roads unsealed.

ALGA President, Linda Scott, commended the program’s focus on delivering safer roads, saying all councils were committed to minimising road trauma.

“Councils are working hard to keep our communities safe on our roads, as one death is simply one too many,” Cr Scott said.

“We welcome this funding as a positive first step to ensuring our roads are safer, in line with the soon-to-be-announced National Road Safety Strategy 2021-30.”

Cr Scott said ALGA’s 2021 National State of the Assets Report – to be launched in December 2021 – indicates that 14 per cent of unsealed roads are in poor condition.

“The state of local roads across Australia is a major concern, given that the road toll in regional and remote communities is up to ten times greater than in our major cities,” Cr Scott said.

“All councils are committed to doing everything we can to ensure our roads keep our communities safe, but this can be a challenging task in remote areas where more financial support from the Commonwealth is needed.”

Cr Scott said eligible councils would welcome this new opportunity to improve safety, equity, and productivity for their communities – benefits that will also be felt at the national level.

“To ensure no community is left behind, it’s vital that these grants are allocated where they are needed most, with applications assessed against transparent criteria.”

“Local government has a proven track record of working with the Federal Government on road safety programs such as Roads to Recovery and the Black Spot Program, and we look forward to working with them on this new pilot program,” Cr Scott said.

Guidelines for the Remote Roads Upgrade Pilot Program, which will target unsealed roads longer than 20km, will be released by the end of 2021.

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