Rodney is facing a looming crisis as already stretched road maintenance budgets are being plundered to fix rural roads destroyed by heavy trucks serving new housing developments.
Rodney Local Board deputy chair Phelan Pirrie said Auckland Transport (AT) staff had already identified 25 roads “absolutely destroyed” by business activities such as cleanfill soil removal for new housing, and the situation would only get worse as growth spread north.
He said one rural road near Kumeu had been ruined by hundreds of heavy truck movements visiting three cleanfill sites, and the $2 million it would cost to repair would be taken from the standard road maintenance budget.
“So that’s $2 million worth of maintenance not being done, and that’s just one road,” he said at the December Local Board meeting. “There’s no more money. Auckland is struggling to keep up with unprecedented growth.
“I don’t think people appreciate the effect of cleanfills. Roads down here have been completely destroyed. It’s started happening in North Rodney and it’s going to get worse – Warkworth is about to get a ton of development in the next 10 to 20, or even 30 years.”
He said if things stayed as they were, the situation would continue to deteriorate, as any increases in funding were being eaten up by increased costs across all sectors.
Board members heard that attempts by AT to get operators to pay for some of the truck damage had failed in the Environment Court, and there seemed little Council could do to enforce such payments, since it was not a planning issue.
An initial agenda item that suggested the possibility of considering a new rate targeted at quarrying, forestry, and managed, clean and landfill businesses – that is, heavy truck operators in rural areas – was withdrawn, due to the size and scale of the problem. The meeting heard that more research and data was needed for board members to fully understand the extent of the issue, let alone the wider public.
Mr Pirrie warned that there were no easy answers.
“Residents who are expecting maintenance won’t get it, roads are deteriorating – this is a serious issue and it’s not going to go away. We shouldn’t kid ourselves there’s some magic solution,” he said.
“We should be looking at the businesses that are causing it and are profiting from development. If developer cleanfill companies contributed to a targeted rate, it could be done.”