I might be wrong but I suspect it doesn't matter what you do for a living, every job has something about it that you don't enjoy. It will be something that frustrates you, it keeps re-occurring and tests your patience. We all encounter this, am I right?
To be honest, in my mayoral role, some days I could come up with more than one thing to choose from, but the one that stands out with monotonous regularity is the subject of potholes, and the poor condition and safety issues of SH3. This should not be an issue but it is.
Collectively through the Mayoral Forum, the region's three mayors are continuously raising our concerns with Waka Kotahi NZTA. This is the government agency responsible for maintaining the highway so the potholes should be their problem, not ours, but of course, we are the ones closest to our residents and therefore the ones to receive the complaints. The much-needed improvements are painfully slow in coming.
Barely a day goes by without having a conversation or fielding a complaint about the state of the road. I have no problem with people speaking out on this issue, in fact I encourage it, but the ongoing nature of the problem and the frustration it causes all of us is challenging.
Late last year, following an intense period of wet weather that gave rise to dozens of potholes, motorists experienced all sorts of issues. Patched up at the time with short term, temporary fixes the potholes were buried under cold asphalt, transforming them into a bumpy mosaic that still remains in place.
The only trouble is, we are fast approaching the wet winter months and there is every likelihood the patches will cut out again, meaning we will be dodging the same potholes all over again plus a few new ones just to add to the problem.
The huge and increasing volume of heavy vehicles, and in particular logging trucks, will almost guarantee that this year's problems will surpass those experienced in 2020.
The fact is, there are many parts of the road surface on SH3 between New Plymouth and Hawera that are simply a disgrace. How could you argue with the local jokester who renamed it the pothole highway? He is right on the mark.
Even when the potholes aren't there, the uneven patchy surface is an issue. Ask anybody who has had the misfortune of taking an ambulance ride on this road to give their assessment, I promise you it won't be complimentary.
There are some positives though, notably the major reconstruction of the road through the Tariki underpass. This is very welcome improvement and let's hope the work eliminates the experience of recent winters when large, deep potholes occurred regularly.
There has been other work carried out at other locations but I am struggling to imagine how the $18 million allocated for maintenance on the road this season will be spent before the summer ends.
Stratford residents will be pleased to see the long-promised resurfacing of Broadway become a reality. The work is programmed to start at the end of this month. The traffic lanes between the roundabouts will be dug out and resurfaced, eliminating multiple surface breaks along this stretch.
The council has been lobbying to have the camber of the road reduced as well therefore making it easier to reverse out of parking places and for pedestrians crossing the road, but sadly NZTA have ruled this out. Like so many of these improvement projects, they are compromised solutions and the scope doesn't allow for the best long-term outcome.
In a recent newspaper article my counterpart in New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdom described the projects planned for SH3 between New Plymouth and Waitara as a "half-arsed compromise". These may not be my choice of words, but I agree with his sentiment.
As your mayor, I will continue to lobby NZTA to do better when it comes to our highways and will continue to draw attention to these issues and push for improvements to the state highways. You can assist me with this by calling NZTA directly on 0800 44 44 49 every time you see a pothole or other issue on their roads.