Mt Barker residents keep pressure on Wanaka road sealing projects

Russell Lovelock at an Otta sealed section of Mt Barker Road.

Russell Lovelock at an Otta sealed section of Mt Barker Road.

Mt Barker Residents Association chairman Russell Lovelock*, 77, makes no apologies for sounding like a broken record over road sealing issues in his rural Wanaka neighbourhood.

The retired farmer leads at least 110 residents who have crusading against the Queenstown Lakes District Council to get several dangerous roads sealed.

Former chairman Philip Melchior achieved the sealing of Faulks Road several years ago but Lovelock said he feared he would die before Ballantyne Road and Mt Barker Road followed suit.

Mayor Jim Boult was supportive at an annual plan hearing earlier in June, so Lovelock hopes the end of the road is in sight and he can turn his attention to the Otago Regional Council and rabbit control and water table issues.

Mt Barker residents mourn teen driver's death on Ballantyne Road
Residents castigate council for slow progress on Ballantyne Road

"They [councillors and board members] must think "Oh my giddy aunt, here they go again". But the dripping tap gets the washer, the squeaking wheel gets the oil. In the Bible, there's a story about the widow who wanted her case heard and the judge finally said if he didn't hear her, she would never leave . . . It is about perserverance," he said.

Former Wanaka Community Board members Ken Copland and Bryan Lloyd had advocated for the association without earning much credit from annoyed residents, but it was important to defend them and thank them for their work, Lovelock said.

"Ed Taylor has not long been on the board but he has done well . . . I was pleased to hear Jim Boult say something will be done. I think Ed's been like a wee limpet and annoyed the hell out of him," Lovelock said.

Residents remained "emphatic" Ballantyne Road must be permanently sealed, particularly after the death of a teenage driver on Ballantyne Road in October 2016, he said.

Lovelock was also "hammering away" about Mt Barker Road because drivers were losing control of cars there.

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Although there have not been any deaths on Mt Barker Road, the council has agreed to cover about 2km of gravel sections of that road with a temporary seal known as Otta seal – except, Lovelock explained, the Queenstown Lakes recently decided to call it "notta seal" so people understood it was "not a proper seal".

"It is a dust suppressant, so they call it notta seal. But we have had it along here [Mt Barker Road] and we are very happy with it. But we don't get the same heavy traffic that Ballantyne Road gets," Lovelock said.

Last year, the council estimated it would take just about all of Wanaka's Otta seal budget ($150,000 of $200,000) to Otta seal Ballantyne Road's gravel sections.

​It wants to do a full upgrade with permanent seal at an estimated cost of $2.4 million. A cost sharing case is being put to the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Boult warned at the annual plan hearing it would not be easy to get what was wanted from the agency.

However he reassured Mt Barker residents the "blow torch" was firmly on the project to do it sooner rather than later.

* Russell Lovelock was mistakenly referred to as Russell Blackgrove in a report on June 5. We are sorry about that, Russell!

 - Stuff


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