The continuation of the current four year Roads to Recovery program past 2019 is crucial for better roads and a lower road toll in Australia as has been shown by the halving of fatalities on the Pacific Highway between the Hunter River and Queensland, the annual NSW Local Roads Congress has advised Australian Governments. In a communiqué following the Congress in Sydney, delegates said the $3.2 billion Roads to Recovery program combined with other funding including for bridges had helped upgrade the 90-percent of New South Wales roads that are maintained by Local Government. Congress spokesman, John Roydhouse, of the Institute of Public Works Engineering, said the Maritime Services Chief Executive, Peter Duncan, told delegates that the billions spent upgrading the Pacific Highway from the Hunter River to Queensland had halved that stretch’s road toll in a decade, saving 30 lives a year. Mr Roydhouse said there was still a lot of work to be done across Australia by all participants in the road building industry ranging from surveyors and earthmovers to road surfacing contractors and landscapers. “The Congress called for a new National Infrastructure Partnership for the three tiers of Government for smarter, long term investment planning in transport and community infrastructure with annual cost-of-living indexed increases in Financial Assistance Grants to Local Government,” Mr Roydhouse said. “In fact, the Congress recommended that Canberra allocate at least one percent of Commonwealth Taxation to Local Government Financial Assistance Grants,” he said. He noted that too high a percentage of road deaths were on New South Wales roads owned and maintained by Local Government Councils, and this was being successfully addressed by the extra Federal funds provided by the Roads to Recovery program. Mr Roydhouse said delegates also recommended State financial help to assist training a Road Safety Auditor within each council. “The Congress called on the Baird Government to redistribute Federal Assistance Grants to regional NSW in a way that addressed social equity, especially in low population areas, and cut the infrastructure funding gap as well as being mindful of the stated effects on infrastructure set out in local and regional Climate Change Plans.” “The Congress endorsed the new State Government Fixing Country Rail Program believing it could cut the freight impact on local roads by directing more freight onto rail. Delegates said it was greatly assisting country councils in developing regional economies and improving the condition of transport infrastructure while promoting road safety.” Mr Roydhouse said.