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Almost 1500 kilometres of Victoria's regional roads are in a "distressed" state, increasing the risk of crashes and putting lives at risk, the RACV warns.
The motoring club estimates it will cost the Andrews government $1.2 billion to fix the state's many degraded and potholed country roads, but says a failure to invest now will leave the state with a much larger bill in the future.
It has called on the government to double road maintenance funding to $300 million a year over four years, beginning with this year's state budget.
Data from VicRoads reveals that 7.4 per cent of Victoria's regional road network is in a distressed state, equating to 1452 kilometres of roads.
Some parts of the state are in much worse condition.
For example, about 15 per cent of the roads in south-west Victoria, between Geelong and the South Australian border, are rated as distressed.
RACV general manager of public policy Brian Negus said when roads are left to deteriorate, they ultimately cost more to fix in the long run. He said poor roads also compromise efforts to reduce the road toll.
"The RACV has repeatedly said that the failure over many years to invest in maintaining roads will seriously compromise safety for Victorians," Mr Negus said.
"The government needs to understand that when Victorians can get from home to work and back safely, our entire economy benefits. A lack of significant investment in the upcoming budget will mean that the State highway network becomes so degraded, that it will inevitably cost more to repair in the future," he said.
Roads are rated as distressed when the surface becomes rough and cracked, increasing the likelihood that potholes will appear.
Roads Minister Luke Donnellan said the Andrews government had invested more than $1 billion in fixing dangerous roads, including more than $150 million on maintenance in the current budget.
"We've spent every day of the last two years making sure our roads are up to scratch, tackling congestion and doing everything we can to reduce injuries and save lives on our roads," he said.
"By dumping the dud East West Link, we've been able to redirect $690 million in funding to regional roads upgrades."
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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