Tararua seeks to trim road repair bill

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 25/01/2013

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Tararua ratepayers could be spared $500,000 if the council's fix-it idea for the region's emergency roading repairs bill pans out.

The Tararua District Council spent $1.1 million on emergency roading repairs in the previous financial year.

The figure is forecast to reach $1.6m this year, so the council's engineering team is looking at innovative ways to reduce costs.

Engineering services manager Ray Cannon said unusual weather had led to an increase in road subsidences, slips and washouts, meaning a rise in the cost of fixing rural routes.

"Money is not freely available and we're looking at how we can make some savings here," he said.

"We've got to get these roads open, so we've got to be as innovative as possible."

Tararua has nearly 2000 kilometres of roading and the council deals with 30 to 40 small slips a year.

But the roads which most often required maintenance had low traffic volumes and were in hard-to-access locations, Mr Cannon said.

"It could cost us anywhere between $30,000 and $50,000 fixing the edge of the road. So we're looking for other options to get roads repaired without spending major money.

"We don't put gold plating down or spend millions of dollars on roads that have one or two vehicles on them a day."

Options include working with farmers and landowners to move land or flatten fences, as well as cutting roads and building basic crib walls to stabilise problem areas.

"It is a win-win situation, really, they may have sacrificed their own land to get the work done, but they get the road repaired in return."

The council would average $1.2m a year on emergency roading repairs and receives a 60 per cent subsidy from NZ Transport Agency to help.

The remaining 40 per cent of repair costs is covered through rates.

"We're not out there to waste money, we're just trying to make the roads as practical and safe as possible," Mr Cannon said.

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- Manawatu Standard

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