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NHVR lines up local government

National Heavy Vehicle Regulator CEO Richard Hancock pushes forward with support effort for councils to help with route assessments as ALGA worries about roads funding shortfall

By Rob McKay | November 23, 2012

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator may be facing a regional road network at risk but it has underlined its pledge to assist the local government sector in its heavy vehicle access burden.

The move comes after last week’s release of the National State of the Assets Report 2012 at the National Local Roads and Transport Congress in Hobart.

Produced for the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) by local government consultancy Jeff Roorda and Associates, the report builds on research commissioned by in 2010 which indicated that current levels of expenditure would need to increase by an average of $1.2 billion per year to avoid deterioration of the local road network.

In 2006, a PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that the potential aggregate backlog for all 560 Australian local councils was about $14.6 billion, with an annual sustainable funding gap of $1.1 billion.

ALGA has stated that the extension to the Roads to Recovery scheme to from 2014 to 2019 will not be enough to cover the funding shortfall.

That issue aside, the NHVR’s new CEO, Richard Hancock, has welcomed ALGA’s new report, saying it will contribute to optimising Australia’s road freight network and that its “comprehensive capture of the state of Australia’s road network assets was critical to achieving this”.

“Knowing where the freight pressure points are and what is needed to address them will be absolutely critical to the NHVR delivering on its objectives,” Hancock, who attended the Hobart conference, tells ATN.

“In that regard, I was pleased to see that 80 percent of the 55 councils that participated in this stage of the project have asset management plans in place and 70 percent have long-term financial plans.

“Improved heavy vehicle access is where the big gains will be made with the NHVR and we are working with local government on a package of initiatives to assist local government deal with heavy vehicle access applications.”

He points out that his organisation has already been involved on the local and regional front.

“The NHVR will be an active partner with local government in an expansion trial of the on line Route Assessment Tool recently rolled out in Victoria,” Hancock says.

“When the national permitting system commences, we aim to have a simple on line tool so that engineers can quickly determine whether a route is suitable for a particular freight task.

“Other initiatives include national route assessment guidelines to ensure consistent outcomes, case managers to act as brokers between applicants and councils on access applications, and technical support.

“I look forward to seeing the ongoing development of this important work by ALGA on the state of the assets and continuing to work with local government across Australia to make sure councils are well placed to take advantage of the benefits of the NHVR.”

The regulator’s office expects that the concentration of permit application information in one place will present a picture of where the pressure and choke points are in local networks.

This will then inform advice on focused spending on local and regional routes in public reports to relevant state government ministers.

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