Road clean-up funds sought

Rural local authorities are weighing up their roading costs after the recent polar blast as they consider applications for emergency funds from the New Zealand Transport Agency to assist with clean-up operations.

Queenstown Lakes District Council transport manager Denis Mander said costs were being compiled for three applications to the NZTA's "emergency reinstatement fund" after the district's roads were hit hard by three snowstorms in the past two months.

The QLDC has an "environmental maintenance fund", which the NZTA contributes to, for unpredictable roading costs associated with extreme weather events.

Emergency funding assistance can also be applied for to help councils with costs associated with road clearance operations made necessary by weather-related events such as rockfalls, snowstorms or flooding, he said.

The applications to the NZTA were considered on a "case-by-case" basis, Mr Mander said.

Operational costs "above our usual expectations" had been incurred during recent weather events, which had forced road closures around the Wakatipu Basin on two occasions in July and also closed the Crown Range mountain pass to Wanaka, he said.

This week's snowstorm, which brought conditions Mr Mander described as the worst he had seen since he moved to Queenstown five years ago, would also affect the QLDC's environmental maintenance roading budget, he said.

Costs were being compiled for the two July events, and once the latest snowstorm clean-ups were completed, another round of cost evaluations would be considered before a funding application to the NZTA.

Central Otago District Council roading manager Julie Muir said the snowstorms had created additional costs in terms of roading maintenance.

"We have higher costs than usual for this winter. We'll probably make an application," she said.

The CODC had a contingency fund to help cover costs associated with extreme weather events, but the actual funding for recent operations was still to be settled, Ms Muir said.

"We're unsure as to how much we are over those [contingency] funds," she said.

Waitaki District Council roading assets manager Geoff Young said the polar blast had brought the worst snowfalls many people in the district could remember.

The WDC was unlikely to apply for any emergency funds to help cover snowstorm clean-up costs "at this stage" and would try to absorb the operations within their existing budget.

Clutha District Council district assets manager Jules Witt said the full cost of cleaning up after the July and August snowfalls was yet to be determined.

The council was "pushing at the outer limits of its roading budget", but would "hopefully manage" without having to apply for supplementary funds from NZTA, he said.

 


Counting the costs
Queenstown Lakes District Council environmental maintenance budgets per district ward:

Wakatipu: $756,000
Wanaka: $161,000
Crown Range: $306,000
Glenorchy: $75,000


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