Residents who will have to wait decades to have their roads sealed have been given an alternative – pay for it yourself.
Auckland Transport is updating its guidelines to allow for private funding of road sealing projects.
Applicants would have to fund all costs of the sealing, including land acquisition, design, consenting, construction and contingencies.
They would also have to fund investigations into the feasibility and design of the road using an AT-approved consultant and all contractors must be approved by AT.
AT would, “absorb its own costs in processing the application, reviewing the design and undertaking any site inspections”. It would also fund ongoing maintenance, renewal and operational costs.
The Local Board would also have to endorse any application.
AT media relations manager Mark Hannan says AT has had four requests from residents to fund road sealing projects in the past year and is actively working with a resident on one proposal.
“AT is receiving an increasing number of offers to fund seal extensions, in full or in part, from third parties,” Mr Hannan says.
But, with an average cost of about $400,000 a kilometre to seal a road, or over $1 million a kilometre where significant earthworks and drainage are required, it is unlikely AT will be inundated with proposals.
Rodney Councillor Penny Webster says she hopes a trial project will be worked through to show residents how the process will work and what the costs are likely to be. Private funding may be an option for short, flat sections of road where there are many residents to split the costs, she says.
“I have been working with AT for many years to enable this to happen, so I am delighted there is a whole section in the latest guidelines,” Cr Webster says. “It was only a matter of weeks ago I was told it wouldn’t happen. I persisted and finally someone has seen sense.”
Puhoi resident Ian Bateman has been trying to get a 100-metre stretch of road sealed outside of his house on Noakes Hill Road.
“We’ve built a brand new house and dust is a big problem,” Mr Bateman says. “We think it’s worth spending $10-$20,000 as an investment for the house.”
He is currently in negotiations with AT, but says it is turning into a lengthy process.
“What’s really slowing things down is we’ve got to pay for a report on the condition of the existing road to show its in a good condition before we pay to have it repaired and sealed. We are having difficulty find any company that can do that sort of report.”
Two years ago, Pukapuka Road resident and civil engineer Tony Mair made a pitch to Rodney Local Board, offering to contribute $600,000 to seal the 3.8km road if AT allowed him to manage the project and engineer it to his standard.
The Local Board allocated $20,000 towards investigating the proposal, but AT said the costs would be far higher than Mr Mair’s estimates and had no guidelines to manage a public-private partnership for road sealing.
Other regions of New Zealand have more generous systems for private road sealing .
Whangarei District Council seals roads where residents agree to contribute $2500 per household.
The Far North District Council also has a scheme where they will seal a road if residents contribute two-thirds of the costs and 70 per cent of residents are in favour. The cost can be paid off via a targeted rate over 20 years.