Road's sealing finally funded after 13 years

One of the most "challenging" roads in Central Otago is about to become less of a problem.

Conroys Rd, at Earnscleugh, has been considered for seal extension every year for the past 13 years and now ranks as the highest priority for sealing within the district.

The Central Otago District Council is about to spend $420,000 sealing the two remaining gravel sections of the 5.2 km road - one 900m section and the other 1.5km in length.

Council roading manager Julie Muir said the project was not eligible for a government roading subsidy.

Seal extensions were considered low priority for funding nationally unless there were significant safety benefits.

While there had been nine recorded crashes on the unsealed sections of Conroys Rd during the past decade, only one resulted in serious injury.

The others were either non-injury or minor injury crashes, she said.

"This road has certainly been a problem for a long time and it's very difficult to maintain, with the kind of topography it is and the volume of traffic it receives - up to 150 vehicles a day."

In a report before the Vincent Community Board last year Ms Muir described the road as "consistently one of the most challenging gravel roads in Central Otago to maintain to an acceptable level of service."

It required weekly grading, which at times was impossible to achieve without adversely affecting grading in other parts of the district.

Dry summers took their toll.

At the height of summer the road could corrugate within a few days.

"Sealed roads usually cost more to maintain than gravel roads but not in this instance - it will actually save us money in the long run sealing it," she said.

The successful tenderer for the sealing project was Fulton Hogan, which had the lowest price, 20% lower than the original estimated cost for the work.

Council roading sub-committee chairman Graeme Bell said it was a "win-win" for the district.

"We've managed to get the lowest price tender, using good local contractors and this will help keep local people employed," he said.

Preliminary work will start next week with the sealing likely to be finished by Easter, Ms Muir said.

The project has been controversial.

Regular users of the road wanted the gravel sections sealed, others had concerns sealing the road would increase its use as a "bypass" route, affecting businesses in Alexandra, increasing traffic speeds on Earnscleugh Rd and increasing traffic on Clyde's main street, Ms Muir said.

The route along Conroys Rd, Earnscleugh Rd and through Clyde was 3.6km shorter between Butchers Dam and the State Highway 8/Clyde dam access road, than travelling along the State Highway through Alexandra.

However, a vehicle travelling within the speed limit and at safe speeds for the roading environment would take exactly the same time to travel both routes, she said.

Heavy traffic was unlikely to use the shortcut as there was a weight restriction on the Clyde bridge and there were more sharp turns and hills on the Conroys Rd route.

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