As we all know, the sealing of Rodney roads is a challenge. Securing the necessary funding and then prioritising that spend generates extensive debate and garners lively opinions. Unfortunately the nature of the issue often means that we focus on what could happen and forget what is actually being done.
After years of lobbying, we do seem to be getting some recognition with additional funding being appropriated for seal extensions. The Technical Services Department has been working on a number of initiatives leading to improving conditions and prioritising the dollars available. To this end they have revised some criteria and made changes.
Schools and school bus routes will have a high priority, something I have been asking for. Communities where there are five or more dwellings within a short length will be given priority, as will sealing short lengths between seal. Other moves, such as using cement stabilisation treatment to address engineering deficiencies, means that the cost is lowered.
Using the new increased budget, Auckland Transport has let three-year contracts for design and construction, again saving the vital dollars needed. A trial of “Otta Seal”, a Norwegian development, is proposed. This was originally developed as a temporary surfacing for new roads but is now used throughout the world on low volume unsealed roads.
NZTA has been trialling chemical dust suppressants in Northland and the results of that will hopefully allow for use on Rodney roads. Auckland Transport has already reduced the lime content in the basecourse which results in less dust. I have long been critical that the costs of roads in the North have escalated and the need to find cost savings is long overdue. These methods should go a long way towards helping to fix the problem.
Trying to explain to my colleagues, both Councillors and staff, the frustration of living on unsealed roads has been an issue and many of them roll their eyes when I talk about it, but maybe finally we will see some real progress. We are not asking for four lane highways or excessive safety features. With the Warkworth area growing at the rate it is, having people live five minutes from town on roads such as Anderson, Hamilton or Wilson, is unacceptable. We are told good things take time, but after many years maybe my push for action is getting traction.