Somewhat unsurprisingly, streetlights and potholes ranked highly as key issues Canberrans love to gripe and complain about.
An analysis of all requests lodged through the ACT Government’s Fix My Street portal from 1 July, 2020, to 30 June, 2021, the top issue Canberrans had a problem with in the community was streetlights, largely with their bulbs not working.
This was followed by illegal parking, then potholes, with the top five list being rounded out with requests for mowing and maintenance, and then pruning of trees and shrubs.
Throughout the 2020-2021 financial year, a total of 47,248 issues were reported to Fix My Street, up from the previous financial year’s total of 34,707 requests lodged through the portal.
In the 2019-2020 financial year, Canberrans had more of an issue with roads, parking or vehicles than anything else, with 10,892 reports on those matters received.
However, given the wet weather experienced throughout much of the 2020-2021 period, potholes became the priority for the ACT Government.
Potholes are created when the road surface is weakened after water enters through small cracks.
According to an ACT Government spokesperson, 3297 reports of pothole-related enquiries were submitted through Fix My Street.
However, the government actually repaired 6375 potholes during this period. Much drier conditions in the previous financial year had meant only 2719 potholes had been dealt with.
In June 2021 alone, the ACT Government repaired more than 500 potholes.
Along with relying on Fix My Street requests, the spokesperson explained the ACT Government “has a proactive program to inspect our key arterial roads, and also responds to community requests of dangerous potholes”.
The spokesperson cited an additional investment of $6 million that has enabled additional crews to respond to reactive requests, particularly pothole repairs and grass mowing.
The spokesperson explained that upon the reception of requests from the public, all matters are triaged, and public safety is prioritised.
Examples of prioritised issues include reports of sharps, line-of-sight issues on roadsides, fallen trees, traffic signal faults, road safety or trip hazards on paths.
Issues which are deemed not urgent, such as path replacement and asphalt works, may instead be placed on a program of works.
The spokesperson explained that low priority works may be re-evaluated as higher priorities arise. For example, in the instance of a storm, resources infracted for the general pruning of trees may instead be reallocated to respond to tree damage.
With requests varying in complexity, the spokesperson explained that some requests can take a long time to be addressed, and can require capital funding in some cases. This could include requests to upgrade the public realm.
Other more complex requests include those that require an ongoing response, such as illegal dumping.
“Dumping may be removed within a short timeframe on safety grounds, but ongoing actions to prevent further dumping may also be implemented,” said the spokesperson.
The Fix My Street portal allows people to submit requests both anonymously or logged in with their ACT Digital Account which allows them to track the progress of their request and feedback.
As well as noting issues, Canberrans can also use the portal to request changes or additions to their streetscape.