This year, the Rodney Local Board is focussed on delivering the key initiatives in our local board plan and while we are making great strides in most areas, one we are yet to see a result from is this: Advocate to the [Council] Governing Body and to Auckland Transport for improved road maintenance and levels of service, and address the impact of activities that degrade our roads. We are becoming concerned with the deterioration of rural roads affected by the increased activities of logging, quarrying and cleanfills, due to forests maturing and growth and development in the wider area.
Auckland Transport’s (AT) current maintenance budget is not equipped to bring these roads up to a standard necessary to withstand the amount of heavy traffic that will be using them, nor make the substantial repairs after the activity has taken place. These activities are largely already permitted, so do not require consents that would provide an opportunity to put conditions on the operators or landowners to contribute to the costs.
The Board is serious about playing our part in addressing this issue and we are now asking specific questions around the number and kilometres of roads affected, identifying properties where forestry and quarries are situated (though it is impossible to know in advance where cleanfill operations will pop up), and the approximate amount of investment needed to make these roads ‘fit-for-purpose’.
We need a better understanding of current funding streams and budget constraints, such as where the road maintenance budget draws from general rates and Road User Charges (RUC), and whether the increase in activity from trucks will result in enough RUC funded-maintenance budget to help the problem. Note, the Regional Fuel Tax is for new capital projects, not maintenance.
From there, we will be able to make some positive suggestions and improve our advocacy to both Council and AT to increase the road maintenance budget.
Advocacy is also important to obtain the best outcomes from the Matakana link road. The Board supports four lanes, at least over critical sections, but we are particularly interested in connectivity. The current design depicts a dedicated, separated, walkway and cycleway for the entire length of the road. This gold-plated ‘path to nowhere’, which empties both ends on to roads with no safe walking or cycling connections to Warkworth township, will be a white elephant. We prefer a simple shared path connecting through the Warkworth Showgrounds, linking sports facilities, recreational spaces, residential subdivisions, schools, industrial and commercial hubs, the central business district, and bus stops.
To this end, I have been working with the One Warkworth Business Association and Auckland Transport towards a revised design and contract and tendering process for the link road, which could save money and time.
Beth Houlbrooke, Rodney Local Board