Sick of ‘dangerous’ roads

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For the past seven years, Kym Kerr and her neighbours have been asking the Gore District Council to repair Wicks Rd to a safe, passable standard – but they are still waiting.

It is not only Wicks Rd, in Wendon, that is barely passable and unsafe during winter – neighbouring Otama Valley Rd and Pyramid Creek Rd also have problems.

Wicks Rd is very slippery and is heavily potholed.

“It’s very dangerous at night if you are driving a car,” Mrs Kerr said.

“We’ve had a couple come a cropper. It’s like driving on ice.”

On one occasion recently a truck driver had to abandon his trailer as the steep stretch of road was impassable, she said.

Roads were essential, especially in rural areas where they were used by residents’ vehicles, school buses, stock trucks and heavy agricultural machinery, Mrs Kerr said.

“Our roads are really busy.

“We’ve been asking them [the council] to do something for years.

“What am I getting for my rates?”

The school bus lost traction on Pyramid Creek Rd, Mrs Kerr said.

“We’re just getting a little bit tired of it all; it’s just frustrating.”

Mrs Kerr questioned where residents’ rate money was going if it was not being spent on road maintenance.

More than one-third of her family’s rates bill was allocated to rural roads, according to the account, she said.

Recently a grader came up the road but that only made it worse.

The grader scraped the mud into the middle of the road and made a bigger mess, she said.

“We’re not asking for much, we just want a road that is serviceable.”

Gore District Council transport manager Peter Standring said during the past two or three years a large farm at the end of the Wicks Rd had been undergoing development, which had resulted in increased use of the road.

But the road was scheduled to be re-metalled.

“So we will get on to it probably in the next month,” Mr Standring said.

The wet winter weather had not helped the problems with the road.

“Winter does play hell on these roads,” he said.

Another Wicks Rd resident, Victor Christie, said most of the roads in the district were “pretty terrible”.

Mr Christie pays his rates to the Southland District Council, which in turn contracts the Gore District Council to carry out road maintenance on the stretch of road bordering his property.

“We’ve had a lot of issues with them on the roads,” Mr Christie said.

For several years the road had only had minor maintenance, such as grading.

Mr Christie said the road had lost its rock base, meaning the cost of upgrading it to an acceptable level would be much higher.

He said springs bubbled up across the road, causing a hazard when the water froze, as big ice sheets formed.

Mr Christie said the dangerous state of the road was a “recipe for disaster”.

Otama Valley Rd resident Jenny Wing said she phoned the Gore District Council and left a message early last week as she wanted to talk about the state of the road, but she had not been phoned back.

Wicks Rd runs off Otama Valley Rd.

Mrs Wing said the roads were pretty bad.

She believed the problem with Otama Valley Rd was a lack of gravel.

“It’s down to mud and there’s potholes after potholes after potholes.”

Even a small shower of rain “churned” up the road badly, she said.

People could be driving along the road and hit a wet spot which “really throws” a vehicle, she said.

“We’ve been programmed for gravel a few times [but] it has never seemed to eventuate,” she said.

Mrs Wing said it was a busy road.