Councillors call for more spending on highways

The Pigroot, east of Ranfurly. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
The Pigroot, east of Ranfurly. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Efforts to improve the state of roading are being urged by Central Otago district councillors as regional highways are "taking a pounding".

Outgoing roading committee chairman Dr Barrie Wills said raising the standard of the district's country roads needed to be a high priority over the next five to 10 years.

"If we have an emergency situation here in Central ... in Alexandra we've only got three main highways," he said.

"Some of those high country tracks could be a life-saver for us, if they're in reasonable nick."

The NZ Transport Agency had overhauled significant sections of the network including the installation of guard-railing to prevent road users "going off the highway and losing control".

Dr Wills queried the move to invest significant amounts of money into safety barriers when road surfaces are "completely unstable".

He has previously raised roading concerns directly with the NZ Transport Agency, particularly the State Highway 85's Pigroot stretch.

He said the NZTA had front-footed some of his concerns, but there were several matters in the region and beyond which needed to be addressed.

"State highways, in particular, are taking a bit of a pounding."

NZTA acting system manager John Jarvis said a priority was a resilient highway network with road surfaces well maintained and protected over their life-spans.

"This will be affected by the volume of traffic on the highway at different times of the year, the speed limits, the amount of congestion at peak times and other safety and access concerns, particularly around high-growth areas like Wanaka and Queenstown."

Maniototo councillor Stu Duncan, who had previously raised concerns around roading in Maniototo said maintenance of the roads and infrastructure was an ongoing matter.

He said he hoped rural areas would not be forgotten when it came to roading and infrastructure funding.

"With 50-tonne trucks, they can damage the road pretty quickly if it's holding moisture.

"Having roads that are suitable for the machinery - in other words if you have milk tankers we have to have roads up to a level."

An NZTA spokeswoman said if a council-controlled road had a "special purpose" then it was eligible for NZTA funding for maintenance/repairs.

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