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THE mother of all potholes took out the tyres of at least six cars in one morning on Broke Road, Pokolbin, motorists say.
It has been cast as a symbol of the Hunter’s deteriorating roads, with $250 million needed to be spent on repairs across the region.
Adam Peattie, of New Lambton, was on his way to work when he saw the damage the pothole inflicted.
‘‘It was crazy to drive past six cars jacked up in a line, each with two left tyres busted,’’ he said.
The pothole was photographed near Hunter Valley Gardens and Leogate Estate Wines on Monday after heavy rain at the weekend.
Mr Peattie said a mate put his ‘‘size 9 thong in front of the hole to give an idea how big it was’’ .
Roads cost $250m
FIXING the Hunter's local roads will cost more than $250 million, prompting calls for federal and state governments to contribute to works.
The problem is most stark at Cessnock, where infrastructure backlog figures show $105.7 million is needed to bring roads up to scratch.
That is about three times what the city makes each year from land rates.
Mayor Bob Pynsent said one of the problems was the impact of mining in the Hunter.
He said areas such as Cessnock and Maitland bore the brunt of traffic heading to mine-heavy areas Singleton and Muswellbrook.
"We get the rough end of the pineapple," Cr Pynsent said.
Hunter Valley Wine Industry Association president Andrew Margan said wine country roads were struggling to cope with increased traffic in recent years.
"These aren't the sort of roads you expect to see in one of the top four wine tourism destinations in the world," Mr Margan said.
He agreed that the impact of mining was being felt in the area.
"The state government came into power saying they would look at the cumulative impacts of the mining boom," he said.
The NSW government has committed $20 million to wine country roads, which must be staggered over several years and has mainly gone towards work on Broke Road.
Mr Margan said McDonalds Road, Deasys Road and Wilderness Road were also in need of upgrading.
Lake Macquarie has a $71.8 million backlog of roads requiring renewal, and a spokeswoman said the council was were committed to identifying problem areas and completing road upgrading.
These included upgrading relatively old and rural roads requiring improvement.
Cr Pynsent said Cessnock had to get its road network "up to a standard".
"We don't have the funds to dig up every road and build a new one, but an effective maintenance program will enhance the network," Cr Pynsent said.
He said roads were Cessnock residents' No. 1 priority.
"People are annoyed about potholes and the general history of roads," Cr Pynsent said.
He said community desire for improved roads had prompted the council to place priority on repairing roads, ahead of building new roads.
He said the council had increased spending on road renewal from $3 million a year to $5 million a year in the last three years.
"These funds have targeted more heavily used roads," he said.
Enormous pothole drives motorists mad
RACHAEL Spooner says the Broke Road is ‘‘the worst road ever’’.
Ms Spooner, the Leogate wine club manager , said she was among those who hit a giant pothole earlier this week.
‘‘I thought I’d lost my tyre,’’ Ms Spooner said.
‘‘It’s probably the worst road ever and I’ve driven some bad roads before,’’ she said.
‘‘You always drive past someone trying to fill them in with sandy stuff, but it doesn’t seem to work.’’
Coalminer Adam Peattie, who was on his way to work and witnessed the carnage inflicted by the pothole, said it was an 80km/h zone and ‘‘quite hazardous’’.
Cessnock council group leader community services Waid Crockett said the council worked ‘‘as quickly as possible’’ on maintenance and pothole repairs after the rain.
Mr Peattie said the council roadworks had been ongoing, but ‘‘it’s definitely a band-aid’’.
‘‘Throwing a bit of tar in a hole and coming back a couple of months later is not really the solution,’’ he said.
North Rothbury resident Helen Wilkinson said safety should be put ahead of traffic counts when prioritising roadworks.
She said there had been numerous serious accidents in Tuckers Lane at North Rothbury and Greta.