State of road prompts allegation of neglect

Bill Pile (foreground) was ecstatic on November 25, 2015, the day the sealing gang put the...
Bill Pile (foreground) was ecstatic on November 25, 2015, the day the sealing gang put the finishing touches to Haven St after it was rebuilt. Photo by ODT.
Rebuilding Haven St, in Moeraki, was hailed as a community achievement unparalleled in New Zealand, but one of the key figures in the estimated equivalent $1million community-led reconstruction of the road, completed in November last year, says it has since been "neglected'' by the Waitaki District Council.

Bill Pile approached the Otago Daily Times this week to show evidence of what he said was the council's neglect of the road.

He first approached the ODT to complain about the state of the road in January. At the time, the road had slumped up to six inches in places as it settled, tearing the seal on top of it.

And although the council had since patched the deteriorated sealed area, now water was running off the road away from the drain put in place and over the seaward side of the road, "scouring'' the bank, Mr Pile said.

"It's going to scour the whole edge out - it has got to be attended to,'' he said yesterday.

"I'm concerned that our work is going to go down the drain.

"If we get a bit of a thundershower, it'll be a mess.''

Haven St was closed to through traffic in August 2013 when heavy rain collapsed a 400m section.

The road remained closed for two years, but the community rallied and for five months last year a volunteer effort rebuilt the road.

Haven St was reopened and the seal went down at the end of November.

This week, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher stood behind the council's work on the road,

saying he had not heard any complaints from any of the Moeraki community about the state of the road.

"What's happening is not at all unexpected,'' Mr Kircher said.

"It's certainly not a case of the council not looking after it, and neglecting it.

"We're very happy with the work that has been done. It's performing the way it should.''

He said the council had spent about $45,000 on the road already and more was earmarked in the roading budget for the coming financial year.

"This all comes out of the roading budget and we've got to balance that with the other 1800km of road we've got around the district. We've got to look after everyone.''

Council roading manager Michael Voss said the council was looking at "what options are available'' for the road, but there was no detailed plan for the road yet.

He agreed with Mr Pile's assessment that under certain conditions a severe storm could again damage the road, but there was nothing the council could do to prevent that.

"Anything can happen and nobody can defend against that,'' he said.

The concrete channel on the road had failed, and the council planned to put a "flexible section'' in its place.

He said the council would hold a workshop with the Waihemo Community Board to address Haven St on Monday next week.

But he said he disagreed with a suggestion put forward by Mr Pile to remove the seal and treat the road as unsealed.

"We wouldn't ever be ripping it [the seal] off at all,'' he said.

But Mr Voss did say laying roading metal on top of the current road was an option for the council.

"There's no real preferred options currently because of the degree of movement; it's very dynamic,'' he said.

"It's been doing this ever since habitation in Moeraki.

"This is just typical of the whole environment there.''

The road had settled but the council had not detected any "lateral movement'' of the rebuilt section of the road, a positive sign.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

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