Road deterioration ‘dangerous’:locals

Obstacle course. . . Waikaka Valley residents (from left) Peter McIntyre, Glen McPhail, Sandie Stark, Kayne Smith and Regan Smith watch Craig Abernethy measure the depth of one of the many potholes on Howe Rd. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

The state of Gore District shingle roads have deteriorated to the point of being ‘‘dangerous’’, Waikaka Valley resident Peter McIntyre says.

The Ensign spoke to neighbours who live in Benio, Howe and McPhail Rds in the valley.

A lack of maintenance was the major cause of the problem, as the roads had not been graded since April, Mr McIntyre said.

‘‘We’re not asking for a highway.

‘‘We’re just asking for a reasonable standard of roads.’’

According to the council schedule the roads should be graded about four times a year, he said.

‘‘We’re not getting anywhere near that.’’

Potholes made driving difficult and drivers often had to cross on to the incorrect side of the road to avoid them.

‘‘If you do your maintenance, you don’t have potholes.’’

The potholes, some of which were 17cm deep, either needed grading out or filling with rocks before gravel was laid on top, he said.

About half a metre of grass had also encroached on to the side of the road and overgrown the rain runoff area so now the water could not run off the road, which added to the problem.

Benio Rd was not used only by those who lived on it and there might be drivers who would be taken unawares by the road conditions.

‘‘Benio Rd’s a through road from Tapanui, so we do have a lot of cut-through traffic, and also Benio Rd is used from Pukerau to Waikaka an awful lot.’’

Sandie Stark said her concern was for the young drivers using the road.

‘‘The young ones are travelling on the wrong side of the road and are sitting ducks, really.’’

A truck driver who made a delivery to her farm had trouble driving through a soft spot on the road.

The driver told her he was concerned about losing control of his truck and it was ‘‘very hairy’’. Ms Stark spent thousands of dollars to repair the undercarriage of her Ford Fairmont that was damaged when driving on the roads.

‘‘I had to sell it and buy a car higher off the [ground] so that I could get down my road without falling into potholes.

‘‘I didn’t want to change my vehicle.’’

When council staff repaired potholes they threw loose shingle on top of the water, which was a temporary fix as the shingle then ‘‘blew out’’ when vehicles travelled over it. She had seen ducks swimming in some of the potholes.

Glen McPhail said he had been livingon McPhail Rd all his life and had never seen the road in such bad condition.

‘‘It’s always been a road I’ve been proud of.’’

In the past he had filled in the occasional pothole that appeared near his house.

‘‘Now the road’s terrible.’’

The weather or vehicles could not be blamed for the state of the roads.

‘‘We’ve just had six weeks of rain [but] it happens every year and there’s been trucks on our roads for years and years.’’

Gore District Council road asset manager Murray Hasler said several gravel roads in the district were in poor condition and he appreciated people’s frustrations.

‘‘We have been monitoring the situation and responding to the highest priority areas where we can.

‘‘However, staff have to be flexible and elevate lowpriority roads showing signs of rapid deterioration on the repair programme.’’

The council had limited resources to carry out roading repairs, he said.

July’s snow and flooding had caused many of the issues, while damp conditions had limited the staff’s ability to carry out repairs as quickly as they would like.

The council had brought in an extra grader to help with the backlog.

‘‘Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a walk-behind roller, so roads graded by this grader are more susceptible to damp conditions,’’ Mr Hasler said.

The council’s rural roads sub-committee, which last met at the end of June, was aware of the issues and were being updated by staff.

The council would be discussing options to lift the present level of service or retain the status quo as part of its 2024-34 long term plan.