NRMA Western NSW director Graham Blight has said he was very disturbed at the state of the Newell Highway, after surveying the Highway from Coonabarabran to Moree last Thursday.
This leg was part of a wider tour of Mr Blight's western region, looking at the condition of arterial and local roads.
"This tour is about confirming the information we are getting that the roads in regional areas are in desperate need of maintenance," Mr Blight said. “Every council is under-funded and
main arterial roads such as the Newell Highway are deteriorating rapidly due to, in part, the recent wet weather but mainly because of heavy traffic and freight trains."
Mr Blight met with Moree Plains Shire Council deputy mayor Sue Price, general manager David Aber and director of engineering Ian Dinham to discuss his findings.
He pointed out that a common thread between rural councils was a severe lack of funding for repair of the vital roads system.
"When it comes to the maintenance of roads the common thing I'm hearing is that it is tough."
Mr Aber agreed, saying "in one word - impossible".
"We have an $8 million shortfall in the roads budget, so now we're seeing a $90 to $100 million backlog of works," he said.
Councillor Price said the local roads desperately needed repairing in order to allow for agricultural freight.
"Our farmers are being more and more productive ... the limiting factor is the roads network and the freight. Farmers have to pay more for truck drivers who don't want to drive on the damaged roads so the whole of Australia will end up paying extra for produce as a result."
Mr Blight said the issue of road funding was becoming a 'desperate' situation.
"The question that everybody is asking is what can we do about it and where do we find the money to do it?"
He suggested that councils and motorists needed to band together to demand that the fuel excise tax was being spent on improving roads.
"We already have a fuel excise tax at 38 cents per litre and that tax was started many years ago to build roads. Only eight cents of this 38 cents is now spent on roads nationally from the Federal Government.
"The motorists, which are the highest taxed group in Australia are putting up to have the roads fixed - and so we want our money back."