Council's approach to road repairs

Each year we repair thousands of potholes across the shire’s 1,250-kilometre road network - that’s almost as far as driving from Kempsey to Melbourne.

The challenge we face is that rain falls on much of the shire at the same time, but Council isn't equipped to send a team out to all of our 1,250 kilometres of roads all at once. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to repair potholes as soon as they are reported to Council. 

Council maintenance crews work hard every day patching potholes, and we welcome the community’s help to locate issues that have emerged on our road network, especially when a wet weather event has occurred. After a pothole is reported, we add it to a list of prioritised works so repairs can be done. 

What can drivers do?

While Council have repair crews closely monitoring and maintaining emerging problems, many local road users may encounter potholes. Council urges residents to be vigilant and report damaged roads. 

You can report a pothole on a Council road by

Please remember that while we assess and consider all requests, road repair works are prioritised according to many factors, including traffic volume and speed limit. 

As always, please drive to the conditions when travelling on damaged roads or during wet weather. 

Why does it sometimes take so long to finish the job?

Several factors affect how long it takes to finish our road repair projects, including the weather.

Depending on the type of project, we stage the works with a temporary seal applied so that traffic can continue to use the road as we check for any weak spots. These spots may need to be fixed before the final seal.

Where possible, final seals are mostly applied in warmer months to achieve a better result. This can mean a project will take longer to complete but the road can be used during these stages. 

Who is responsible for maintaining the roads?

Council carries out ongoing maintenance on the 1,250 kilometres of local roads in our shire, which includes repairing potholes, cracks and line-marking.

The NSW Government is responsible for maintaining the main roads in our shire. This is managed by Transport for NSW.

Council has two road crews dedicated to road maintenance of our sealed road network, and pothole repair makes up a major part of their role.

Two additional crews are dedicated to maintenance of our unsealed roads, and several additional crews step in to help out with road repair after major weather events.

How does Council identify problems on our local roads?

Council carries out regular inspections of all road surfaces to assess them for problems and determine the priority for improvement and preventative maintenance.

Visual inspections

We regularly carry out detailed visual inspections of our roads as follows:

  • Major roads – 6 times a year – our busiest roads with the most traffic at higher speed limits.
  • Tourist routes – 4 times a year – roads used regularly by both locals and visitors.
  • Collector roads – 3 times a year – these roads serve to feed traffic to major roads.
  • Other local roads – 2 times a year – roads important to our road network but which carry less traffic at relatively lower speeds.

Independent mechanical inspections

We conduct regular independent mechanical surveys of our roads according to the following timetable:

  • All road classifications – 4 to 5 years depending on funding availability.

These more detailed inspections help us plan the maintenance and repairs that will achieve the best results for our entire community.


How does Council choose which roads to repair?

Council prioritises road repairs across Kempsey Shire based on:

  • traffic volume
  • regional or local significance
  • speed limit
  • bus routes
  • proximity to schools and places of public interest
  • pedestrian activity.

Why do potholes form on our roads?

Potholes form for a range of reasons but water getting through the road surface is the main one. This is why we see more potholes after periods of heavy rain.


Can potholes be prevented?

Pothole prevention is a major and ongoing priority for us. Techniques include resealing, rejuvenation and pavement rehabilitation.

To reduce potholes occurring in the same location, Council identifies trouble spots and our teams use ‘heavy patch’ repairs, which involve rehabilitating a broader section of road and resealing it to significantly reduce the possibility of it happening again.

Sometimes, however, a road in poor condition may not be suited to heavy patching, given the extent of failed pavement.

We also use a risk-based analysis to determine when a ‘heavy patch’ is required - for example if a pothole or other type of road failure is located in a high traffic area.

To repair potholes during rain, we use a product that sets in the wet to increase safety as quickly as possible.

Heavy patch solutions may be rolled out at these locations later based on risk and analysis of other safety and asset factors.

Why doesn’t Council just reseal every road?

The cost of sealing a road from scratch is in the realm of $1 million per kilometre of road. The costs of repairs are a fraction of that. There is a very real cost to ratepayers each time a road is resealed.

In projects of this scale, the human resources and equipment requirements are extensive, and Council simply does not have the capacity to reseal a large number of roads at once.

Part of our approach is to focus on sustaining or extending the life of the road and, in doing so, minimise ongoing maintenance costs.

There's also the question of time, as the time required to reseal an entire road is much more than the time required for repairs.