Highways meeting 'light on detail'

Barrie Wills
Barrie Wills
The response to concerns about "appalling" state highways in Central Otago is a bit light on detail, the Central Otago district councillor who raised the concerns says.

But Cr Barrie Wills said a meeting with NZ Transport Agency representatives about the issue had gone well and he hoped road conditions would improve and publicity about roadworks would increase.

Cr Wills raised concerns in the Central Otago District Council's roading committee meeting last month about the condition of some Central Otago highways, which he said were "as rough as guts" in many places.

He was particularly concerned about some sections of the Pigroot and Chatto Creek (State Highway 85), and Shingle Creek (State Highway 8).

Cr Wills' concerns were echoed by some other councillors. Cr Stephen Jeffery said he was worried that if significant road slumping at Shingle Creek was not fixed "it will cause an accident".

A recent statement from NZTA senior network manager John Jarvis and maintenance contract manager Mark Stewart said a "constructive meeting" between them and Cr Wills had since been held.

"We acknowledged that there were some isolated sections of SH8 and SH85 that, due to the local geology, have always presented challenges to road maintenance crews, with ongoing ground movement resulting in bumps and hollows," Mr Jarvis said.

"Some of these are extremely difficult and costly to fully repair and stabilise, so the focus is on regular attention to maintain drainage and smooth the bumps. The priority is to ensure such sites were as safe as possible, with the worst sites having appropriate warning signs in place."

Temporary 70kmh signs had been put up at Shingle Creek, where there had been "more recent movement", Mr Jarvis said.

He said Central Otago's state highway network had "one of the best overall condition rankings in the country", but Cr Wills' concerns had been passed on to NZTA contractors.

Cr Wills, who is a member of the Otago regional transport committee and chairs the district council's roading committee, said the meeting with NZTA representatives had been "good", but "a bit light on detail".

He said he would wait to see what further roadworks would be done and hoped the NZTA would communicate better about roading projects.

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