Region's roads 'appalling'

EXPORTS: Logs keep rolling out of the yard, but with a wet winter and an unprecedented amount of logging, the region's roads are under pressure. Picture by Liam Clayton

THE state of the region’s rural roads is so bad GDC is considering a last resort measure of winter log truck restrictions and a full review of the region’s roading contracts.

A meeting of Gisborne District Council’s assets and infrastructure committee on Thursday considered both issues.

Councillors voiced discontent over the state of roads after Panikau Station owners Michael and Cushla Murphy were left disappointed at the lack of action on their road, despite telling the council “a significant number of times” the road was in “poor and unsafe” condition.

The couple said that last week a truck going to their farm got stuck and it took two tractors and many hours of neighbourly help to get him out.

“This road has been in an appalling state for the last 12 months with very little metal applied to the areas that become soft and deep with the rain.”

They said the road was unsafe to the point where fuel and cattle trucks and other large vehicles were unable to get to the station.

“This is causing a significant impact on our farming business.

“If logging is commenced in this area there will be significant implications of health and safety for the residents and logging companies.

“We would have expected with the assistance and support of NZTA that these roads would not have got to the condition that they are in.”

District councillor Pat Seymour said it was known that local roads could not cope with logging traffic in winter.

“We have had a multitude of complaints in the last week, particularly on Panikau and Tauwhareparae roads where we are constantly getting requests for service.

The system is not responding to people, who were living in “not the most remote parts of the region”.

Mrs Seymour said the problem was not the fault of drivers, rather a lack of surface metal.

She had heard enough excuses.

“It really is not good enough to do this to the people who pay rates. It’s getting more than untenable, and there really is no excuse.

“We need better systems. We need to lift our game. It’s getting past acceptable for ratepayers who pay a lot of rates to get practically no service.”

Wet winter and logging spells road damage

GDC Lifelines department director David Wilson said the region was experiencing one of the wettest winters in a long time, coupled with “unprecedented” year-round logging.

Emergency and priority work had also kept contractors busy. The size of the region meant equipment movements had to be considered due to expense.

The council was about to complete two reports considering the impacts of imposing winter weight restrictions on some smaller rural roads. This would have to be considered “carefully”.

A staff report said Kanakanaia and Ngakoroa roads were being considered for a winter weight restriction.

“This is an action of last resort and has not been implemented for several years.”

All roads due to be upgraded as part of a proposed regional development economic package would be excluded.

Bill Burdett said the fault was with the contractors.

“When you go to small communities like Hicks Bay, and they are saying our contractors are rarely sighted, you have to question what the hell’s going on.

“I understand there is going to be a full review of the NOC (Network Outcome Contracts) and that may well give us the story as to why things are not right.”

Brian Wilson was concerned there was no way to keep an eye on expenditure with the way the NOC worked at present.

As governors they had no way of knowing at the end of the year if all the work had been done.

“We can’t monitor anything or say ‘hey you’re getting behind’, or see if something is falling away. As governors we can’t have much control over things because we don’t know.”

Committee chairman Graeme Thomson confirmed a review of the situation would be finished by next month.

“It’s not simple, because there are shared responsibilities within those contracts, but we need to find out exactly what’s going on.”

THE state of the region’s rural roads is so bad GDC is considering a last resort measure of winter log truck restrictions and a full review of the region’s roading contracts.

A meeting of Gisborne District Council’s assets and infrastructure committee on Thursday considered both issues.

Councillors voiced discontent over the state of roads after Panikau Station owners Michael and Cushla Murphy were left disappointed at the lack of action on their road, despite telling the council “a significant number of times” the road was in “poor and unsafe” condition.

The couple said that last week a truck going to their farm got stuck and it took two tractors and many hours of neighbourly help to get him out.

“This road has been in an appalling state for the last 12 months with very little metal applied to the areas that become soft and deep with the rain.”

They said the road was unsafe to the point where fuel and cattle trucks and other large vehicles were unable to get to the station.

“This is causing a significant impact on our farming business.

“If logging is commenced in this area there will be significant implications of health and safety for the residents and logging companies.

“We would have expected with the assistance and support of NZTA that these roads would not have got to the condition that they are in.”

District councillor Pat Seymour said it was known that local roads could not cope with logging traffic in winter.

“We have had a multitude of complaints in the last week, particularly on Panikau and Tauwhareparae roads where we are constantly getting requests for service.

The system is not responding to people, who were living in “not the most remote parts of the region”.

Mrs Seymour said the problem was not the fault of drivers, rather a lack of surface metal.

She had heard enough excuses.

“It really is not good enough to do this to the people who pay rates. It’s getting more than untenable, and there really is no excuse.

“We need better systems. We need to lift our game. It’s getting past acceptable for ratepayers who pay a lot of rates to get practically no service.”

Wet winter and logging spells road damage

GDC Lifelines department director David Wilson said the region was experiencing one of the wettest winters in a long time, coupled with “unprecedented” year-round logging.

Emergency and priority work had also kept contractors busy. The size of the region meant equipment movements had to be considered due to expense.

The council was about to complete two reports considering the impacts of imposing winter weight restrictions on some smaller rural roads. This would have to be considered “carefully”.

A staff report said Kanakanaia and Ngakoroa roads were being considered for a winter weight restriction.

“This is an action of last resort and has not been implemented for several years.”

All roads due to be upgraded as part of a proposed regional development economic package would be excluded.

Bill Burdett said the fault was with the contractors.

“When you go to small communities like Hicks Bay, and they are saying our contractors are rarely sighted, you have to question what the hell’s going on.

“I understand there is going to be a full review of the NOC (Network Outcome Contracts) and that may well give us the story as to why things are not right.”

Brian Wilson was concerned there was no way to keep an eye on expenditure with the way the NOC worked at present.

As governors they had no way of knowing at the end of the year if all the work had been done.

“We can’t monitor anything or say ‘hey you’re getting behind’, or see if something is falling away. As governors we can’t have much control over things because we don’t know.”

Committee chairman Graeme Thomson confirmed a review of the situation would be finished by next month.

“It’s not simple, because there are shared responsibilities within those contracts, but we need to find out exactly what’s going on.”

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