Smith challenges Auckland Transport to rethink roads

Rodney Local Board member Colin Smith is urging Auckland Transport (AT) to adopt a different approach to road sealing, which he believes could significantly reduce sealing costs.

Mr Smith says that a new ‘fit for purpose’ unsealed road maintenance system would be a game changer for rural roads and road maintenance budgets.

“It was first trialled on Wyllie Road in Warkworth as part of the NX2 motorway project,” Mr Smith says.

“The process involves widening the road out to the water table leaving the base course, shaping, hoeing in cement powder and finally tar sealing the road.

“The trial, which could be integrated into general road maintenance, will see the cost of tar seal extensions drop from $1 million a kilometre, to an estimated cost of $100,000 a kilometre enabling Rodney roads to be sealed within 10 years by using rural rates.

“The vehicle maintenance costs of driving these roads will dramatically fall along with the lasting environmental benefits from the suppression of roading material washing into our waterways.”

Mr Smith says the benefits from this trial methodology can already be seen on Old Woodcocks Road.
Auckland Transport was asked to comment on the suggestion, but declined.

Meanwhile, AT has provided further clarification on its road sealing budgets.

A total of $4.7 million was in the budget for road sealing in 2018/19, with funding from general rates and the Regional Fuel Tax. However, AT figures show that only $3.7 million was spent.

An AT spokesperson says initial forecasts had Ngarewa and Wellsford Valley roads seal extension projects progressing to construction phase in 2018/19, but this did not happen due to design issues.

The unspent budget has been carried over to the current financial year with construction forecast on track.

Similarly, Rodney ratepayers were promised  $5 million for road sealing this financial year, but AT has budgeted to spend only $4.6 million.

“We can confirm the total budget for 2019/20 is $5.8 million, which includes the amount deferred from 2018/19,” the spokesperson says.

The Rodney Local Board last year allocated the $2.8 million from the Araparera fund to seal nine roads –  Underwood Rd (0.7km), Whitmore Rd (1.8km), School Rd (0.8km), Tauhoa Rd (0.5km), Wharehine Rd (0.9km), Krippner Rd (0.3km), Smith Rd (0.4km), Dennis Rd (0.7km) and Rodney Rd (0.6km). 

According to the latest figures from Auckland Transport, $2,225,860 was spent on Underwood, Whitmore, School, Tauhoa and Wharehine in the last financial year.

A further $1,815,799 is budgeted to be spent on Krippner, Smith, Dennis and Rodney Roads this year. This is a total spend of  $4,041,659, which is $1,241,659 more than was in the Araparera fund.