'50MAX' trucks for Southland roads
Is this a good move for Southland's roads?
Poll: From early next year a type of heavy truck, known as 50MAX trucks, will be allowed on Southland roads, a move which could cost rate payers millions of dollars.
The Southland District Council voted in favour of allowing the high productivity motor vehicles (HPMV) on the roads as soon as the NZTA changes legislation next year, but first the council must explore how it would manage and minimise the damage.
Southland District Council services and assets group manager Ian Marshall said the council was simply passing the change before it was "imposed" on it next year.
The NZTA had recently allowed 50MAX trucks on all highways, he said. 50MAX HPMVs are trucks that perform on the road in the same way as a standard 44-tonne truck because of an extra axle, but can carry up to 50 tonne.
The potential damage the trucks could cause was unknown and no-one knew how much money was needed to maintain the roads with such large vehicles on it, Mr Marshall said.
It could be in the millions of dollars, he said.
That cost had to be weighed up against the industries and businesses it would benefit, including farming and forestry, he said.
Now the council had the task of deciding which roads the vehicles would not be allowed on in the district, which was the reverse of the current situation, where trucks were not allowed on any roads and applied for permits for each section, he said.
Presently the special 50-tonne trucks require permits for district roads throughout the country.
At present, NZTA paid for 53 per cent of the roading cost, while ratepayers coughed up the rest.
Southland District Council engineering services contractor John Laskewitz said the council would spend the next six months exploring a "happy medium" where the council was helping economic growth by allowing the trucks on most roads, but was not asking ratepayers to cough up funds for roads that the pressure of the trucks would cause extensive damage.
Currently 89 HPMVs have permits to drive on 13 different sections of roads.
The council has turned down 75 applications in the past, ranging from HPMV wanting to travel one kilometre to 100km stretches of road.
The council had been conservative about issuing permits in the past because of the damage they did to the roads, but the damage may be offset by economic growth, Mr Laskewitz said.
"We're trying to find the best balance."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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