For many years up until 2008, the MBRA was responsible for all aspects of roads and drains maintenance in Merricks Beach. This involved engaging a contractor to grade the roads twice a year. The Association would also run regular working bees to fill potholes. A few willing souls wielding shovels would fill a trailer from the stockpile of gravel, then distribute it around the village. Good exercise, but unfortunately it turned out to be the same half dozen people who fronted up each time. We had total control over the maintenance activities and erection of signage, and a large part of the Association’s annual expenditure (approx. $10,000 p.a.) was dedicated to the roads. The downside of this arrangement was that the Association didn’t have the financial resources to undertake regular drain work or re-surface the roads as the gravel eroded.
From 2008 onwards, the Road Management Act required the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council to take over our road maintenance. The MBRA’s role then became one of liaising with the Council and its contractors to achieve the best outcomes for the village. The major roads in the village are now graded on a 15-week cycle with the lesser roads on a 26-week cycle. We have a close working relationship with the contractor (Downer) and hold regular on-site meetings to highlight areas of concern with both the roads and drains. We also maintain close contact with the responsible Council officers.
While road expenditure has fallen significantly, we still spend around $5,000 per year (which is matched by the Council) on re-sheeting the roads. This is in addition to anything the Council might do off its own bat, and involves putting material back onto the road surface and grading it smooth. This is generally done before the summer grade in November. I would ideally like to return to having a stockpile of gravel for ad-hoc pothole filling, but have been unable to find a suitable location. We therefore have to rely on the Snap. Send. Solve. Council app to get things done.
I can’t speak about prior years, but believe the roads and drains are in better shape than they have ever been in my 25 years of coming to Merricks Beach.
Unfortunately, with these improvements has come the combined effects of CFA access requirements, power company pruning and large contractor machinery which has seen the narrow, winding roads widened and straightened and potentially contributing to increased speeds …but that is a topic for another day.
Bernard Barrett – MBRA Roads and Drains