Roads pounded as big rigs get bigger

The increase in massive trucks rumbling through Timaru is putting major pressure on the district council's already tight roading budget.

Council land transport manager Andrew Dixon said heavy vehicles have become increasingly frequent, with 57-tonne vehicles commonly permitted on specific routes.

"It makes sense for companies to increase the size of their average vehicle, because it leads to fewer trips overall," Mr Dixon said.

"The real issue is the increase in the number of vehicles in general."

Last year, the New Zealand Transport Agency issued 587 permits for 53-tonne-plus High Performance Motor Vehicles on the Canterbury roading network.

This compared with 225 permits in 2012 and 81 in 2011. Permits are for two years. NZTA was unable to provide figures specific to South Canterbury.

However, Mr Dixon said in the Timaru district, Richard Pearse Drive (Temuka), Hally Tce (Temuka), Aorangi Rd (Seadown) and Earl Rd (Geraldine) were particularly affected.

"On most roads freight makes up about 2 per cent of the traffic, but on these roads it's between 10 and 40 per cent and climbing," he said.

He said the council's road-renewal budget was about $1 million a year. "It's simply not enough to do everything."

In 2012 NZTA approved the council's application to widen Factory Rd's bridge to two lanes. Construction should start in April and be completed by the end of next year.

Mr Dixon said the bridge could then carry 70-tonne trucks.

NZTA's freight manager Harry Wilson said the increase in larger trucks along the state highway network would reduce the number of truck trips overall. However, Mr Dixon did not believe this.

"All signs point to larger vehicles on our roading network, and more of them."

The Timaru Herald