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Agency VA 722
Country Roads Board
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Date Range: 1913 - 1983
 
Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency
Background to Establishment of the Country Roads Board

By 1910 it had become increasingly apparent that there was a need for a central roads authority to take over responsibility from the Board of Lands and Works (VA 744) for the care and management of the main roads of the state. Up to this time there was a lack of co-operation between the agencies with operational responsibility for roads, the Roads and Bridges Branch of the Public Works Department (VA 669) and local municipalities, in the construction and maintenance of main roads. Expenditure of state funds was without proper supervision or a thorough investigation into actual needs. The absence of a systematic policy, as well as a lack of funds, had resulted in Victorian roads being in a deplorable condition. At this time the use of the motor car accentuated the demands for better roads.

As a result of these needs the Country Roads Act 1912 (No.2415) was proclaimed in 1913 providing for the establishment of the Country Roads Board as a central road authority with responsibility for those roads within the State considered to be main roads.

Functions of the Board

Initial functions of the Board, as defined by the Act, were:
- to ascertain which roads should be main roads,
- to ascertain the most effective methods of road construction and maintenance,
- to ascertain the deviations in existing roads or new roads which would facilitate communication and improve conditions for traffic.

After an initial investigation by the Board construction guidelines were established and the letting of construction contracts, either directly by the Board or by municipal councils, proceeded by circa 1915.

Although the Country Roads Board was established in 1913 to co-ordinate the construction and maintenance of main roads and bridges the Public Works Department (VA 669), through its Roads and Bridges Section, continued to have a role in the construction of roads and bridges. The final report of the Royal Commission on the State Public Service in 1917 indicates that the Public Works Department confined its operations chiefly to by-roads, tourist roads and special roads, although some overlapping with the Board could occur. The report, which made no mention of bridge construction by the Public Works Department, proposed the amalgamation of the Roads and Bridges Section with the Country Roads Board. It is not clear exactly when the Public Works Department ceased to exercise any responsibility for road construction. Therefore, despite the establishment of the Country Roads Board, the Board of Land and Works (VA 744) presumably continued to have some statutory responsibility for roads, and possibly bridges, until the Country Roads Board assumed full authority (by 1936?).

Extensions of Responsibilities

At various times other types of roads were proclaimed under legislation and subsequently came within the responsibility of the Country Roads Board.

The Development Roads Act 1918 provided for the declaration of 'Developmental Roads', roads which would serve to develop any area of land by providing access to a railway station for primary producers.

The Highways and Vehicles Act 1924 provided for the declaration of certain arterial roads as State Highways.

The Tourists' Roads Act 1936 provided for the declaration of roads of sufficient interest or roads leading to tourist resorts or attractions as Tourists' Roads. Construction of tourists' roads had occurred prior to this on an ad hoc basis from at least 1917, through the Tourists' Resorts Committee which functioned within the Department of Public Works (VA 669), however no provisions had existed for maintenance or improvement prior to this Act. The Country Roads Board continued to have responsibility for tourists' roads until 1983 when it was succeeded by the Road Construction Authority (VA 1054).

The Country Roads Act 1956 enabled the Board to construct by-pass roads which became popularly known as freeways.

The Board also exercised some responsibility for other outer-metropolitan roads and, in conjunction with Municipal Councils, for unclassified roads. Other functions of the Board have included:
- inspection and supervision of the construction and maintenance of country bridges,
- control of speed and weight of commercial goods vehicles,
- licensing of country, commercial, passenger vehicles including touring and light motor omnibuses and prescription of routes, under the Motor Omnibus Acts (until 1934 when the Transport Regulation Board (VA 2738) inherited this responsibility),
- collecting on behalf of the Traffic Commission, a body made up of representatives of agencies concerned with traffic management, data on road safety and traffic accidents (until 1971 when this function was inherited by the Road Safety and Traffic Authority (VA 487)).

Following an amendment to the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works Act in 1956 (No. 5982) the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (VA 1007) was vested with responsibility for the construction and maintenance of proclaimed metropolitan bridges and main highways. In July 1974 the Country Roads Board resumed responsibility for such roads and bridges under the provisions of the Metropolitan Bridges Highways and Foreshores Act 1974.

Decentralisation of Administration

Increases in the Board's direct responsibilities and the necessity for the supervision and control of works entrusted to municipalities led the Board in 1926 to adopt a scheme of decentralization. Over time the following ten regional divisions, each headed by a Divisional Engineer, were established: Bairnsdale, Ballarat, Benalla, Bendigo, Dandenong, Geelong, Horsham, Metropolitan, Traralgon and Warnambool. At present only the Ballarat Division has been registered (VA 1021).

Ministerial Responsibility

Until 1970, the Country Roads Board reported directly to the Minister responsible for Public Works. On 12 June 1970 the Minister for Local Government assumed responsibility for the Country Roads Act, and from 19 May 1973 the Board reported to the Minister for Transport.

Restructuring of Transport Portfolio and Abolition of the Board 1983

In 1982 the administration of the State's transport authorities began to undergo a significant transformation. Under the provisions of the West Gate Bridge Authority (Transfer of Functions) Act 1982, proclaimed on 1 July 1982, responsibility for the functions of the Westgate Bridge Authority were transferred to the Country Roads Board. The following year, on 30 June 1983, the Country Roads Board was succeeded by the Road Construction Authority (VA 1054) established under the provisions of the Transport Act 1983 (No.9921).

Further series may be listed in the List of Holdings (1985 edition, 1994 reprint).
 
More Research resourcesMore Research resources
Record series created by this AgencyRecord series created by this Agency
Displaying 1 to 20 of 37  Go To First Page Of List Go To Previous Page Of List of 2 Go To Next Page Of List Go To Last Page Of List 
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Date Range Series Title Series Number Series Location Public Access
? 1920 - ? 1920 Transcripts of William Calder's Official Notes of Inspection VPRS 14350 North Melbourne Open
? 1940 - ? 1980 Wages Records VPRS 1752 North Melbourne Closed
1913 - 1920 William Calder's Official Notes of Inspection VPRS 14349 North Melbourne Open
1913 - 1938 Register of Roads Gazetted VPRS 10206 North Melbourne Open
1913 - 1940 Registers of Claims and Compensation for Land Acquired for Road Purposes VPRS 6106 North Melbourne Open
1913 - 1961 Newspaper Cuttings Books VPRS 10200 North Melbourne Open
1913 - 1971 Orders In Council And Declarations VPRS 10205 North Melbourne Open
1913 - 1983 Survey Field Books VPRS 4045 North Melbourne Open
1913 - 1983 Survey Level Books VPRS 4046 North Melbourne Open
1913 - 1983 Minutes VPRS 14351 North Melbourne Part Open
1913 - 1983 Agendas VPRS 14356 North Melbourne Open
1913 - cont Annual Reports and Reports of the Chief Engineer (GRS 1694) VPRS 15886 Not Applicable
1914 - 1983 Annual Reports VPRS 14355 North Melbourne Open
1915 - Circa 1930 Miscellaneous Plans VPRS 7393 North Melbourne Open
1915 - cont Survey Plans VPRS 7389 North Melbourne Open
1915 - cont Withdrawn Parish Plans VPRS 7390 North Melbourne Open
1915 - cont Withdrawn Township Plans VPRS 7391 North Melbourne Open
1916 - ? 1921 War Relief Fund Committee minutes VPRS 14576 North Melbourne Open
1918 - 1942 Registers of Approving Orders-In-Council VPRS 10438 North Melbourne Open
1933 - 1978 Register of Contracts VPRS 14353 North Melbourne Open
Functions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibilityFunctions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibility
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Date of Responsibility Function Title Function Number
1913 - 1983 Roads and bridges VF 15
- 1934 Licensing country commercial passenger vehicles VF 451
- 1956 Roads and bridges (metropolitan) VF 158
- 1971 Road safety and traffic management VF 160
1974 - 1983 Roads and bridges (metropolitan) VF 158
Functions for which this Agency has or has had secondary responsibilityFunctions for which this Agency has or has had secondary responsibility
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Date of Responsibility Function Title Function Number
Superior AgenciesSuperior Agencies
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Date of Relationship Agency Title Agency Number
Subordinate AgenciesSubordinate Agencies
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Date of Relationship Agency Title Agency Number
1948 - 1983 Country Roads Board, Ballarat Division VA 1021
Related AgenciesRelated Agencies
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Groups containing this AgencyGroups containing this Agency
Display entries per page
Date of Relationship Group Title Group Number
1913 - 1970 Public Works VRG 28
1970 - 1973 Local Government I VRG 57
1973 - 1983 Transport VRG 49
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