Roads crisis 'too big' for us

BIG ISSUE: The Waipiro Bay Road as it was last year, one of many roads that have been having issues with wet conditions and heavy traffic. Twenty-two rural roads are scheduled for some sort of maintenance between now and October. File picture
Waipiro Rd closed

THE forestry industry says the region’s roading crisis is too big for Gisborne District Council and Tairawhiti Roads to handle alone.

A new report entitled “Roads in Crisis” prepared by Eastland Wood Council, in association with Federated Farmers, forestry owners and forestry management companies, calls for a joint approach to improving the roads and suggests the Government should be approached to take charge.

“The region’s roads have become a problem that exceeds the role and responsibility of Tairawhiti Roads and Gisborne District Council to make change. It is paramount that others step in to assist the process,” the report says.

It points out that forestry, trucking and farming operations are all affected by the region’s poor roads.

“This is a major regional and national problem that requires the council, Tairawhiti Roads, and the forestry and farming sectors, along with central government, to start the process of solving this with appropriate collaboration of stakeholders.”

EWC chief executive Prue Younger said it was important to note that the report was not about throwing stones but about recognising the “scale and urgency” of the problem.

“We want to collaborate to find the solutions and work as a region to support an approach to central government to make that change to the process.”

Ms Younger said it was now “time to act” and for the industry to drive a collaborative approach to change the roading crisis.

GDC’s assets and infrastructure committee will consider the report.

Concerns from Waikohu County Council

The EWC report comes just a day after more concerns were raised by former Waikohu County Council roading contractor Bernard Cranswick, who said the situation there was at its worst level since Waikohu was amalgamated into Gisborne District Council in the 1990s.

Mr Cranswick said there was “just no maintenance going on”.

“The roads are falling to bits. Waikohu County used to have two graders permanently grading and two diggers permanently water-tabling. But at the moment that work just isn’t getting done — it’s farcical.”

Mr Cranswick also questioned why the work was not done when the council received $1.20 per 1km of truck movement in road user levies from the government to carry out the work.

At present, there were slips in the area that had not been cleared from the road verge for four years, while the Mata and Tauwhareparae roads were “tearing trucks to pieces”.

GDC director of lifelines David Wilson said the wettest year so far in 73 years, coupled with an unprecedented amount of heavy vehicles on the network, was putting extreme pressure on the region’s roading network.

“Our contractors SSE and Downers are working hard to keep up across the network.

Longer-term strategy

“The council is working closely with our roading partners to develop a longer-term strategy and plan around our roads.

“Part of this is ensuring that our roads remain open and safe for our community.

“We are having issues with a couple of our roads and we will work with our contractors to ensure that the community have safe access to their homes and farms,” he said.

There was some confusion that the council was looking to close roads.

“I would like to reassure our community that we are not considering closing roads, but we might consider enacting the Gisborne District Traffic and Parking Bylaw, which allows the council to restrict use of certain classes of vehicles on roads only if conditions worsened.

“It is one tool in the tool box available to the council.”

Restrictions would not be implemented without stakeholder engagement and then not before all other options had been exhausted.

Mr Wilson said the present dry spell had given some respite and crews had been able to make necessary repairs on the network.

“What is critical is the safety of the residents. We need to ensure that this is paramount in any plan that we make.”

THE forestry industry says the region’s roading crisis is too big for Gisborne District Council and Tairawhiti Roads to handle alone.

A new report entitled “Roads in Crisis” prepared by Eastland Wood Council, in association with Federated Farmers, forestry owners and forestry management companies, calls for a joint approach to improving the roads and suggests the Government should be approached to take charge.

“The region’s roads have become a problem that exceeds the role and responsibility of Tairawhiti Roads and Gisborne District Council to make change. It is paramount that others step in to assist the process,” the report says.

It points out that forestry, trucking and farming operations are all affected by the region’s poor roads.

“This is a major regional and national problem that requires the council, Tairawhiti Roads, and the forestry and farming sectors, along with central government, to start the process of solving this with appropriate collaboration of stakeholders.”

EWC chief executive Prue Younger said it was important to note that the report was not about throwing stones but about recognising the “scale and urgency” of the problem.

“We want to collaborate to find the solutions and work as a region to support an approach to central government to make that change to the process.”

Ms Younger said it was now “time to act” and for the industry to drive a collaborative approach to change the roading crisis.

GDC’s assets and infrastructure committee will consider the report.

Concerns from Waikohu County Council

The EWC report comes just a day after more concerns were raised by former Waikohu County Council roading contractor Bernard Cranswick, who said the situation there was at its worst level since Waikohu was amalgamated into Gisborne District Council in the 1990s.

Mr Cranswick said there was “just no maintenance going on”.

“The roads are falling to bits. Waikohu County used to have two graders permanently grading and two diggers permanently water-tabling. But at the moment that work just isn’t getting done — it’s farcical.”

Mr Cranswick also questioned why the work was not done when the council received $1.20 per 1km of truck movement in road user levies from the government to carry out the work.

At present, there were slips in the area that had not been cleared from the road verge for four years, while the Mata and Tauwhareparae roads were “tearing trucks to pieces”.

GDC director of lifelines David Wilson said the wettest year so far in 73 years, coupled with an unprecedented amount of heavy vehicles on the network, was putting extreme pressure on the region’s roading network.

“Our contractors SSE and Downers are working hard to keep up across the network.

Longer-term strategy

“The council is working closely with our roading partners to develop a longer-term strategy and plan around our roads.

“Part of this is ensuring that our roads remain open and safe for our community.

“We are having issues with a couple of our roads and we will work with our contractors to ensure that the community have safe access to their homes and farms,” he said.

There was some confusion that the council was looking to close roads.

“I would like to reassure our community that we are not considering closing roads, but we might consider enacting the Gisborne District Traffic and Parking Bylaw, which allows the council to restrict use of certain classes of vehicles on roads only if conditions worsened.

“It is one tool in the tool box available to the council.”

Restrictions would not be implemented without stakeholder engagement and then not before all other options had been exhausted.

Mr Wilson said the present dry spell had given some respite and crews had been able to make necessary repairs on the network.

“What is critical is the safety of the residents. We need to ensure that this is paramount in any plan that we make.”

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