Dust problems rile rural residents

Staunton Rd resident Ron Giles is fed up with what he says is poor gravel being used on his road, causing lots of dust.
Staunton Rd resident Ron Giles is fed up with what he says is poor gravel being used on his road, causing lots of dust.

A group of Invercargill residents is fed up with the "unnecessary" amount of dust on its rural roads and say the city council is doing nothing to fix the issue.

Staunton Rd resident Ron Giles has lived in on West Plains Rd for 46 years, but said as more and more people moved to the outskirts of Invercargill for the lifestyle, the roads were becoming busier and he believed the council should look at tarsealing them.

He had complained to the council numerous times, but last week received a letter saying the council would be regravelling the road but not tarsealing it.

He understood the cost of sealing roads, but was disappointed with the poor quality of gravel chosen to regravel it, he said.

The type of gravel being used had been used before with "terrible results", he said.

It was very clay-based and during dry patches caused large amounts of dust, he said.

That dust was causing heat pumps to break down and staining driveways and cars. When it was wet, the clay-type gravel made the roads slippery and hard to handle, he said.

"We want gravel that will eliminate dust as much as possible."

He believed the dust was contaminating the drinking water of some properties and some residents were concerned it was causing health issues through spreading the weedkiller that was being sprayed on the side of the road, he said.

Invercargill City Council roading manager Russell Pearson said gravel roads generally caused a lot of dust and sealing roads was an expensive exercise.

In some towns and cities when developments were built, an extra fee was charged by the council to the developers to help pay for the extra pressure put on services, he said.

That was not the case in Invercargill, Mr Pearson said.

The roads did not experience very heavy traffic, with about 70 vehicles using Fowler Rd a day and about 50 using Staunton Rd, compared with a street such as Queens Drive, which had about 20,000 vehicles a day, he said.

The council did use gravel with a high clay content, but that was because it packed down on the roads better, providing a better surface to drive on.

To seal the road it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said.

It was common for the council to receive complaints in the summer about dusty gravel roads, but it was something that was a balance between working within council budgets and ensuring all roads in Invercargill were maintained, Mr Pearson said.

The Southland Times