'No' to big trucks using rural roads

By Christine McKay

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For Southern councillor Shirley Hull the solution is simple - NZTA needs to fix the bridge.
For Southern councillor Shirley Hull the solution is simple - NZTA needs to fix the bridge.

The Tararua District Council has said no to allowing all 50-tonne trucks to be diverted down country roads, away from a bridge on the state highway described as being "from the Dark Ages".

"We've declined, in a nice way, NZTA's request for a diversion away from the Oringi rail overbridge on State Highway 2," council chief executive Blair King told councillors on Wednesday.

The Oringi overbridge, 10 kilometres south of Dannevirke, is weight-restricted and Mr King says pressure needs to go on NZTA to fix the bridge, rather than having 50-tonners diverted around unsuitable council-owned rural roads.

"My recommendation is to decline the request to allow the use of our roads for a bypass of the bridge, until assurances are obtained that NZTA will meet the costs of any reactive maintenance to those roads at the emergency services rate," he said. Tararua District Mayor Roly Ellis agrees.

"Those country roads will be shocking for those big trucks, especially Graham Rd which has no width on it at all," he said. "Trucks would have to cover a lot of extra kilometres and travel past a school (Ruahine). It's just crazy."

Councillors were told the pavement on the two alternative routes Graham Rd and Maharahara Rd is likely to rapidly gullwing from rutting because of the increase in heavy traffic movements.

For Southern councillor Shirley Hull the solution is simple - NZTA needs to fix the bridge.

"Unless council puts pressure on to NZTA to fix the Oringi bridge, nothing will be done about it," she said. "This Government talks about roads of national significance, but we've still got a bridge in the Dark Ages."

While Mr King said there would be no blanket approval for 50-tonners to use the roads, for trucks coming out of local businesses such as Metalform, RCR Energy, Alliance and Kiwi Lumber, there wouldn't be an issue. "These companies benefit our district, we can manage approvals for them," he said. "But we're unable to manage a special bypass route and there'll be no blanket approval."

Councillor Warren Davidson asked when the overbridge would be upgraded and Ray Cannon, the council's manager of engineering services, said there had been discussions with NZTA.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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