Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Rural residents angry at state of roads (plus video)

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Hamurana farmer Rob Marshall is not at all happy with the state of rural roads in his area. He is not alone with farmers from other areas also unhappy.
Hamurana farmer Rob Marshall is not at all happy with the state of rural roads in his area. He is not alone with farmers from other areas also unhappy.

Some of Rotorua's rural residents are angry with the district council about the state of their roads, with one saying they feel like second class citizens.

But, the Rotorua Lakes Council says there have been no change to rural road maintenance programmes for the past three years and roads are inspected regularly.

Atiamuri's Dave Aitchison told the Rotorua Daily Post he used Dunkirk Rd, Maleme Rd, Galatos Rd and Te Weta Rd - all of which are metal roads with no seal - and had had multiple meetings with council staff and elected representatives about their state of disrepair, but had got nowhere.

"Right now there are sections of roads with slips on them and branches across them.

"A family member had a near miss the other day having to swerve to miss a branch on the road and nearly had a head on.

"What's it going to take - do we wait for something to go horribly wrong before they do something about it?"

He said he had been living in the area for 18 years and the roads were "pretty much in the same condition as when I got here".

"We feel we are second rate citizens, what do we get for our rates - not a lot - we get no rubbish collection, water, sewerage, we don't use the library.

"Those rates keep going up and what do we get - stuff all.

"We are living in the 21st century - not the 1800s - these roads are a disgrace and an accident waiting to happen."

Mr Aitchison said he regularly got letters saying someone had inspected the roads, but rarely saw anyone fixing potholes, removing obstacles or grading them.

"All we are asking for is some maintenance. I had a go at them, I've had meetings, but I've had a gutsful and life's too short to waste my time with these guys.

"People out here have given up on them," he said.

Roy Rd, Hamurana, resident Rob Marshall said he made a complaint about two weeks ago.

"It's just unreal. There are potholes everywhere, some as deep as my gumboots, and the whole road is corrugated.

"Our road is virtually a culvert and water just runs right down the middle of the carriageway and it's bloody dangerous.

"I had a tanker come past the other day that had to serve to miss a big hole and almost hit me.

"Now there's no metal on the road to grade anyway. It needs a hell of a lot of work and the gutters are full of grass and dirt."

The council's transport and waste solutions director Stavros Michael said bad weather sometimes created higher maintenance and repair needs on roads, "which also affects when we can repair them".

"We have about 500km of sealed roads and 135km of unsealed rural roads under our care.

"Maintenance covers road surface management, signage, roadside vegetation control, road marking, drainage channels and culverts, and lighting.

"Council contractors carry out regular inspections of the roading network ... weekly checks are carried out on arterial roads, while monthly inspections are undertaken for other important roads and local roads are inspected every three months."

He said that maintenance included grading unsealed roads, drainage maintenance and sweeping.

"Laying down metal on unsealed roads is also a priority and typically happens during winter when it is most needed.

"A pothole repair can be addressed in one day for a very high density road, two days on an arterial road, three days on other important roads and seven days on local, parks and unsealed roads."

He said the council had received 41 calls in the past three months about the conditions of rural roads in the district.

"About $2.7 million is spent annually on the general maintenance of rural roads, $3.5 million for road surfaces and other aspects of improvement, and $1 million for capital upgrades such as seal extensions and culverts.

"Spending on rural roads is reasonably steady and does not vary greatly from year to year."

A member of the council's new Rural Community Board and former Rotorua district councillor, Bob Martin, said he would be bringing up the issue of rural road maintenance and re-sealing when the new board officially met after October's elections.

"When I was on council we had a pretty good programme of maintenance and sealing and I'm not sure what's happened to that, but it seems to have dropped off significantly in the last few years.

"As rural people we pay a lot of rates so we need to know what that money is being spent on."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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