Ashburton councillor fires up over funding ‘tourist roads’

Ashburton District Councillor Stuart Wilson is disappointed that even more money is earmarked for...
Ashburton District Councillor Stuart Wilson is disappointed that even more money is earmarked for repairs on Arundel Rakaia Gorge Road. It's part of a planned $1.7 million spend on what he calls "tourist roads". PHOTO: SUPPLIED
An Ashburton councillor is furious at the intention of spending more money on “tourist roads”.

Councillor Stuart Wilson slammed the proposed direction of the Ashburton District Council’s $1.7 million of additional funding, saying it was all going on just two roads.

“I’m very disappointed with where you are spending the money,” Wilson told the council's roading manager Mark Chamberlain.

“You are spreading $1.7 million on (Arundel Rakaia Gorge Road), which is a damn tourist road.

“I know it’s a busy road but I thought we put $1.7 million in to be spread across the district.

“The majority of our maintenance is going into those two roads.”

In the council’s subsidised road rehabilitation funding, Arundel Rakaia Gorge Road, part of the Inland Scenic Route 72, has $1.75 million of works across five sections and Thompsons Track has $730,400.

That equates to 67 per cent of the total $3.68 million budget.

From the additional $1.7 million taken from the from the forestry reserve for unsubsidised road funding, Arundel Rakaia Gorge Road ($492,200) and Thompsons Track ($424,200) combine for 53 per cent of the spend.

Thompsons Track carries a high volume of traffic and has been earmarked for extra rehabilitation...
Thompsons Track carries a high volume of traffic and has been earmarked for extra rehabilitation work. PHOTO: SUPPLIED.
Wilson said he knows the decisions were based on traffic volume but “there are roads just as important” to the district.

Chamberlain said that the two roads have the most work scheduled because they have most of the potholes and the failures on the network.

“If we look 10 years down the track we shouldn’t have to be spending money there.”

He said they are the roads that, from a safety aspect, need the work done.

In his report to the council, Chamberlain said the rehabilitation work would eliminate anything other than minor routine maintenance, second coat seals and reseals for at least 25 years. It would also avoid using resources for ongoing patching to hold the older failed sections of pavement.

But Wilson disagreed, suggesting the funding should be spread further across the district and Waka Kotahi/NZ Transport Agency should be stumping up more money for the two busy roads.

“Those [two] roads are semi-tourist roads and I think if NZTA don’t want to help us spend more money on those roads, I say stiff luck,” Wilson said.

“People can growl and you can say to NZTA, 'you are not giving us enough money to maintain those roads'.”

Chamberlain said the proposed list of rehabilitations will come to the council for final approval.

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