Orange markers reign supreme

At least $40 million is being spent on roadworks by the city council and New Zealand Transport Agency each year and another $50 million on cycleways over the next decade - not to mention the roll-out of ultrafast broadband. Debbie Porteous discovers digging up Dunedin is big business.

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No wonder there always seems to be roadworks of some sort going on in the city.

The Dunedin City Council's roading department says work it contracts out leads to more than 200 sites around the city being dug up each year.

And that is a small part of the story.

The council receives more than 3000 requests a year to dig up parts of the city's roads and footpaths.

Many of those requests are from its own water department, and others come from utilities or telecommunications companies such as Delta and Chorus.

A not-insubstantial number are from private property owners and developers.

And then there is the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), working to improve state highways and keep them in good repair.

Add in a couple of new cycleways, surprise underground issues such as caves or concrete, and five or six teams around the city installing ultrafast broadband, and it can make for a lot of orange barriers around town.

Even relatively small jobs, seen lately as the council tweaks traffic lights in the CBD, can create a disruptive orange obstacle course.

But DCC projects engineer Evan Matheson says everyone on roading jobs should be working to avoid that as much as they can.

Barriers, cones and bollards must be kept tidy and in a manner least likely to inconvenience road or footpath users.

That requirement was written into contracts and monitored by external consultants and internal council staff according to agreed management plans.

The council's temporary traffic management co-ordinators also kept an eye on things. They monitored physical works and reported issues to those responsible. However, it was still ''certainly a challenge''.

The council spends about $1.2 million each year on minor safety improvements, which can often be the most noticeable things during their construction.

They include pedestrian-operated traffic lights, such as the one being installed in Highgate from this week, changes to intersections, new guardrails, footpaths and pedestrian facilities.

That is just part of the $25 million the council will spend in the next 12 months resealing 55km of roads and repaving 25km of footpaths, as well as renewing, maintaining and improving roads, footpaths and cycleways in the city.

Another $13 million will be spent on a maintenance contract with Fulton Hogan for fixing potholes, footpath resurfacing, road resealing and other work.

The water department will have several pipeline projects on the go this financial year, totalling about $10 million of work. That will cause disruptions on city roads, including

Crawford St, where a more than 100-year-old water main is being replaced.

Capital delivery team leader William Clifford said the Crawford St work was expected to go on for another two months. The roadworks had been extra costly because the original road was made of concrete slab under a thick layer of asphalt.

Senior network manager John Jarvis said other than its major Caversham project, the NZTA planned to spend about $2 million resurfacing state highways in Dunedin this year.

The NZTA also has plans to spend up to $12 million on cycleways in the central city and between St Leonards and Port Chalmers during the next decade, while the DCC contemplates its as-yet-unpriced plans for completing the city-wide cycle network using local roads.

So far, the South Dunedin Cycle Network has created a lot of roadworks in that area, but the council's plans are considerably more expensive than anticipated, so future disruptions may be less than initially thought.

The cost of all of this work is largely shared between the ratepayer and the taxpayer.

Under funding arrangements with the NZTA, ratepayers foot the bill for any footpath work and about a third of the bill for any new capital roading projects, such as the South Dunedin Cycle Network, or widening Portobello Rd around Otago Peninsula.

The NZTA covers 56% of the bill for other roadworks, such as road resealing, reshaping, kerb work and slip repairs, such as that started at Brown St this week or planned at Broad Bay later this year.

From next year, NZTA will contribute a blanket 59% of the cost of all local roading work, although that will reduce to 52% by 2023.

While that gave the council some extra funds in the next three or four years, DCC programme engineer Michael Harrison said it was not expected to translate into a plethora of extra roadworks.

Instead, it could be used to bring forward some longer-term projects, such as widening Portobello Rd or upgrading to LED street lighting.

While the roading department's work is heavily subsidised by the taxpayer through the NZTA, the city water department's work is not.

Ratepayers bear 100% of the costs of water works around the city.

Mr Clifford said horizontal drilling technology meant the ground's surface no longer had to be ripped up as much. These days, about 10% of the cost of pipeline works was in reinstating roads.

Mr Matheson said what works were done where, and when, was determined by specialist engineering and transportation planning staff at the council.

Consultants worked through detailed designs for projects and split the work into packages, which he then put out for tender.

The programme of works for minor improvements, for example, would be tendered out in about three separate packages each year.

Once tenders were in, the best was selected and marker cones usually started appearing about six weeks later.

Mr Matheson said no time of the year was better than others for roadworks, but summer was preferable for sealing.

Cycleways
Portobello Rd widening - $25.4m (over 10 years)
South Dunedin Cycle Network - $4.5m
West Harbour shared path - about $10m
SH1 cycle lanes - up to $5m
Hill suburbs cycle routes - plus Town Belt $8.5m
Mosgiel cycle routes - $2.5m
City to Mosgiel and Brighton - $5m (excludes tunnels option)

* Estimated figures

Tar very much

I'm sorry but I lived in the UK for 35 years and never saw the mess that I see on these roads, and please don't tell me our roads here are used more. The simple answer is that roads here are sub-standard, poorly maintained, have road markings that dissapear in the sun and rain and dont get me started on the one 'seal' fits all approach. Just as with the 'sheds' that are called houses here, we seem to put up with it - why? I have no idea. And then there is so-called Broadband. When we moved here I called the provider up to complain they had put me on dial up by mistake just to be told "nope thats broadband".

I believe this is tar

I believe this is tar repairs to fill in small cracks in the road.

Explain please

Right I get that roads and stuff on and under them at times need sorting. What I dont get is why it is when the work is done that the roads end up looking worse not better than before. Can the ODT please get a person of greater knowledge than mine to explain why both main one way systems have hundreds of shiny strips of I don't know what on them that when wet leap out like a group of slugs glowing on the road, and why it is that crucial road markings dissapear in the wet with the 'slugs' being the only thing remaining? Police want us not to be 'Tardy Drivers' but how can we stay in lane when we can't see them?

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