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 then there is the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA),
working to improve state highways and keep them in good
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
But DCC projects engineer Evan Matheson says everyone on
roading jobs should be working to avoid that as much as they
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
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
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
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
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
Instead, it could be used to bring forward some longer-term
projects, such as widening Portobello Rd or upgrading to LED
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
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
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
The programme of works for minor improvements, for example,
would be tendered out in about three separate packages each
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.
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