Roadworks cover businesses in dust cloud

LAIRD HARPER
Last updated 05:00 21/02/2013
Lester Bulmer
LAIRD HARPER/Fairfax NZ
COATED: Autopart Central Taranaki manager Lester Bulmer is at his wits end over the plumes of dust caused by nearby roadworks.

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Businesses caught in a dust storm kicked up by roadworks on State Highway 3 are fuming.

The New Zealand Transport Agency is working on a resealing and repair programme between Patea and Stratford in the middle of Taranaki's hot, dry weather.

As a result, a thick coat of dust is getting inside shops, settling on cars and annoying businesses in its path.

Stratford Four Square co-owner and district councillor John Sandford said they had to shut their doors on Tuesday because dust was pouring into the store.

He said an already frustrating situation had been made worse by contractors sweeping up the loose gravel.

"It was absolutely chronic on Tuesday; it was bloody horrible."

He said although they had been warned about the work, there was no indication it was going to be so bad and he was considering seeking compensation.

Autopart Central Taranaki manager Lester Bulmer said the dust cloud had covered everything he was trying to sell.

"It's a bloody mess," he said.

"I bet these guys aren't going to come over and clean these vehicles."

In South Taranaki, Grant Vosseler, who owns Patea's River Cafe, said after he raised concerns with the company it agreed not to sweep the road outside his business until it ran a water truck over it.

Mr Vosseler was prompted to seek help after seeing dust-covered businesses in Stratford and Hawera. He said he was satisfied with the result.

Blacktop Construction Ltd, which is contracted to do the work, declined to comment yesterday due to contractual obligations, and directed all questions to NZTA.

NZTA regional state highway manager David McGonigal said they always tried to keep dust and noise during works to a minimum.

"Unfortunately this week has been one of those times when there has been more dust than we would have liked, and we understand that this can be frustrating for local businesses and residents," he said.

"While we can use water to suppress dust from road sweeping before sealing work gets under way, using too much water can cause the new bond between the bitumen and the chip to loosen, which means the new surface won't set properly."

He said "sucker trucks" had been used to help minimise dust.

"We'll be using a water cart to dampen the road surface and carrying out sweeping in small lengths of the road surface in order to try to reduce the amount of dust being produced.

"The NZTA understands the frustration and annoyance that this has caused to local businesses and residents, and we encourage anyone with concerns about the impact of our roadworks to contact the NZTA directly so we can address those concerns."

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