Councils are responsible for constructing and maintaining local roads, monitoring the standard of local roads, and undertaking repairs. This can be costly, so they sometimes have to prioritise road construction and maintenance projects. Councils always prioritise road construction and it is helfpul to remember that no council ever has sufficient resources to build and maintain a perfect network.
The Roads Management Act requires councils to have a road management plan covering all the roads they are responsible for. These plans include a list (or Register) of all the council’s roads. The plans will also describe how a council will inspect, maintain and repair the public roads for which it is responsible, to meet community expectations.
Your council's road management plan will contain clues about scheduled maintenance and repair schedules. The plan will be based on the underlying values of the council in respect to the importance of roads, road share, prioritisation of mode (e.g. walking) so you may wish to influence the plan if you want to change council priorites.
Under the Roads Management Act, a road includes the whole road width from property line to property line, so this incldues all the footpath, kerb, verge, nature strip, drains etc. So although we identify a road as the tarmac bit, it really is much more than that, this is why the Roads Management Act is important.
Councils have powers to discontinue roads, deviate roads, alter road levels or widths, rename roads and erect signs.
They also have traffic powers, including powers to restrict the use of roads in some circumstances, determine speed limits, issue special parking permits, remove abandoned vehicles and place or remove barriers on roads.
Working out which council is responsible for the area and for particular roads isn’t too hard. First you need to work out which local government area you are in, if you don’t already know. Local Government Victoria has a handy Find Your Local Council tool on their website. Just put in your suburb, town or postcode and you’ll get the details of your council and how to contact them.