Residents vent on social media as roads turn to sludge

Roads in Kaipara Flats were among the worst affected.

Road safety campaigner Geoff Upson snapped Kaipara Hills Road.
Road safety campaigner Geoff Upson snapped Kaipara Hills Road.

Glen Ashton was dismayed by the state of Ahuroa Road.
Glen Ashton was dismayed by the state of Ahuroa Road.

Rural residents of Rodney took to social media to complain about the state of their roads after significant rain last month.

Photos taken by residents from Kaukapakapa to Tauhoa showed muddy roads in a dangerous state.

Perhaps the most dramatic was an image by the Ryburn household, of Tauhoa Road in Kaipara Flats, which showed the road buried in clay.

Initially, the Ryburns were told by Auckland Transport (AT) it would take 25 days for an officer to inspect the road, but they were then pleasantly surprised when Downers and Roads for Rhodes contractors were dispatched on the same day to apply metal to the affected roads.

AT spokesperson Mark Hannan says the damage was caused by a combination of heavy rain and dust generated by vehicles.

He said reducing speed was the ‘single most important factor’ to improving the condition of the road.

“If you and others in the community slow down, this will have the direct result of reducing dust. A vehicle slowing from 80kmph to 20kmph will reduce dust by 75 per cent.”

Mr Hannan said the roads had also been impacted by an increase in logging trucks.

However, this excuse didn’t wash with lifelong Kaipara Flats resident Sam Ryburn, who said that local government had had 25 years to prepare for the forestry traffic.

“Trucking companies pay more than their fair share in taxes towards roads,” he said.

Sam said AT simply did not allow contractors to put enough metal on the roads.

He said the amount of metal paled in comparison to the days under the Rodney District Council when Sir Gordon Mason was mayor.

“In so many patches of the road, it is now down to the clay or sandstone base layers that were put there in the horse and cart days.

“Last month was the worst it has been, but it has been a constant for the last eight to 10 years or so.”

Mr Hannan said AT had an annual programme to make “surfacing improvements” of unsealed roads, but Tauhoa Road was not on the three year works plan.

He said roads were prioritised by traffic volume, heavy vehicle usage, number of houses and safety. He added that AT consulted with Local Boards and was incorporating their feedback on unsealed roads and would report back to boards in a month.

Meanwhile, Sam Ryburn said traffic volumes were steadily increasing, especially on Sunday afternoons as Aucklanders returning home try to find shortcuts.

“When there is an accident on SH1, traffic is diabolical. When a truck hits the railway bridge in Kaipara Flats or two trucks tried to pass each other on the Tauhoa Gorge, traffic just stops.”

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