The Far North District Council has rejected a claim from a Parapara Rd resident that Church Rd had been removed from the list of roads to receive sealing over the coming season.
The Northland Age's efforts to establish who said exactly what have not been successful, but the council's infrastructure and asset management general manager, Andy Finch, said last week that no such decision had been made. The plan to seal 1.7km of the road, from its intersection with SH10 east of Awanui, still had to be approved by the NZTA, however. If approval was not forthcoming, the next road with the highest priority would be considered.
Mr Finch said the sealing matrix was the fairest means of determining how limited funding could be used in a district with a huge unsealed road problem.
"Our district has 2508km of roads, only 35 per cent (858km) of which are sealed," he said earlier this month.
"We estimate it would cost at least $500 million to seal the remaining 65 per cent. That is clearly unaffordable. However, we are committed to sealing more of our roads, and reducing the nuisance road dust causes many rural residents.
"To help us achieve this in an objective and transparent way, we have developed a matrix that ranks individual sections of every unsealed road in the district.
"Rankings are based on criteria including traffic volumes, the number of residents on each road and the distance their homes are from the road, the presence of schools, marae and other community facilities, and whether the road is a significant detour route or is used by forestry trucks and other heavy traffic.
"While our elected members have endorsed this tool, they have no input into which roads are chosen for seal extensions. This is decided by ranking unsealed road sections in order of greatest priority according to the road seal matrix.
"Collecting and compiling the matrix data has been a major undertaking. We have now measured the distance from the road of 6000 homes, logged all marae along the unsealed road network, and are progressively updating traffic counts and other data for every road section. Using this information, we have selected three road sections for sealing that we plan to ask the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) to co-fund.
"Before the NZTA agrees to co-fund any of these selections, the Northland Transportation Alliance must deliver a comprehensive business case for each that will include updated traffic data. The NZTA may reject any of our selections. In that case, we will present the next road section on the priority list.
"We have also selected three road sections to be sealed in 2019/20 without funding support from the NZTA," he added.
"We are confident that these are the right selections, and do not plan to change them. To increase transparency of the selection process, we will publish a simplified version of the matrix next year before any new road seal selections are made.
"Finally, we are working closely with the forestry industry to ensure up-to-date harvest information is included in the matrix. This will also assist with the application of temporary road dust suppressants that forestry and other industries are collaborating with the council on."
The roads to be sealed under the NZTA allocation are Otangaroa (Kaeo), 200m, Church (Kaitaia), 1.7km, and Koropewa (Waipapa), 1.8km. Those to be sealed without subsidy Kumi (Awanui), 3.9km, Porotu (Oromahoe), 1.3km, and Puketi (Ōkaihau), 1km.