Your views: Road to trouble

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HIGH FIVE: Downer zero harm adviser Des Ryan gives Anthony Scott a congratulatory high five as the last touches are finished on the repair work on a slip on the Brynderwyn Hills. PHOTO/MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM
HIGH FIVE: Downer zero harm adviser Des Ryan gives Anthony Scott a congratulatory high five as the last touches are finished on the repair work on a slip on the Brynderwyn Hills. PHOTO/MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

Yesterday we asked how you felt about plans for the 'Holiday Highway' toll road while other major new roads around the country do not.

We had a great response from readers.

Today Steve McNally from Focus NZ asks why our roads are being allowed to deteriorate.

As FNDC continue to spend on the nice to haves, our roads continue to deteriorate.

I identified the Mangakahia road slip potential some two years ago and notified roading and engineering staff. One subsidence area has been patched several times over the past year, but the catastrophic slip failure that closed Mangakahia road needs discussion.

Far North District Council receives government subsidy for road maintenance of approximately 55 per cent, whereas the storm damage subsidy for the recent storm event is 95 per cent (normally in 80-95 per cent range).

So it seems to me, staff think it is better to repair slips after a storm event and capture the higher subsidy.

This sounds sensible, until you think it through and do the maths.

The Mangakahia road slip could have had maintenance work to have the toe secured to prevent the recent major road failure at a cost estimated at $50,000. Government maintenance subsidy 55 per cent = $27,500, required ratepayer funding $22,500.

The major slip currently being repaired could cost $1 million. Government storm subsidy 95 per cent = $950,000, required ratepayer funding $50,000.

So by not maintaining the road to prevent the slip, the ratepayer is $27,500 worse off, plus the access disruption and economic loss to the Far North, Northland and NZ must be factored in.

This is estimated at in excess of $1 million/day as milk was dumped, logs, meat and other produce not harvested, many off work, and firms contracted to deliver fuel, produce or maintain business interests had to carry costs of the lengthy detours.

With the recently released FNDC annual plan, produced by the current council governance group, showing debt will rise from $81-$98 million at June 30, 2015, I wonder how they intend to cover the extra storm damage costs. More debt to cover the ratepayer share or rate increases?

It seems the same thinking affects our highway network staff and contractors, with slips closing State Highway 1 at the top of Waiomio and the Brynderwyn Hill. More on route security later, what we need now is a maintenance strategy.

Steve McNally Acting board chairman, Focus NZ

What do you think about our roads? Which of our roads should be prioritised?

- Northern Advocate

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