HEAVY rain has damaged large sections of the Mitchell Highway, with huge potholes littering the road between Orange and Bathurst.
Transport industry stalwart Graeme Burke this week described the state of the Mitchell Highway between Bathurst and Orange as a "bloody disgrace."
The highway is littered with potholes so big they resemble craters, with Mr Burke saying the road's current state is a safety risk to those using it.
Mr Burke, who owns one of the biggest transport companies in the Central West, said he drove from Bathurst to Orange on Friday.
"It is an absolute bloody disgrace, it's a mess, it truly, truly is."
He said the problem with roads is they aren't built properly in the first place.
"At the end of the day, when they build them they just don't build them to a high enough specification to start off with.
"And the drainage is just dreadful. Water lies along the edge of the road in the culverts and as the vehicles and in particular the big trucks go along they vibrate the road and it brings the moisture up.
"That's what causes the problems.
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"It's not the surface rain. Have a look where road is broken up, the bulk of the time you'll find there is water lying on the side of the road," he explained.
He said the region's roads have been neglected for years by various governments.
"We've been ignored so long, it's just frustrating," he said citing the Great Western Highway, and Olympic Highway as other examples.
He said there have been calls for a tunnel through the mountains for over 10 years.
"Now all of a sudden when we had torrential rain and the road was shut, everyone kicked up a stink they go 'well now we're going to put a tunnel in'.
"Well mate, if they decide the tunnel route, it is another 20 bloody years away. It is just so sad nothing gets done."
He said the safety of road users was at risk.
"If you look at the statistics I think you'll find the Mitchell Highway is one of the stretches with the highest crash rates.
"Now of course you get these massive potholes in the side of the roads. Most modern vehicles have low profile tyres... they don't absorb bumps, you blow a tyre, the driver loses control and bang they either go into another car or they are off the road."
Member for Bathurst, Paul Toole agreed the road was in poor condition.
He said it was a challenging time with the weather conditions, and said crews who were working on the road have been recently subject to stay at home orders, which has also caused delays.
In response to the situation, Transport NSW said maintenance crews are undertaking work to address the state of the Mitchell Highway, with the maintenance of the state road network a "top priority."
"A combination of heavy and consistent rainfall and snow in the past month has caused potholes and an uneven road surface on some parts of the Mitchell Highway between Bathurst and Orange," they said.
"Transport for NSW maintenance crews carry out weekly inspections of roads in the network, including this section of the Mitchell Highway, and repairs are being carried out as a matter of priority. The road remains open under traffic control and reduced speed limits."
The spokesperson said Transport for NSW maintenance crews are continuing to work within the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions and are committed to being as responsive and efficient as possible.
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