Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Kerre Woodham: A road map for success prioritises fixing our roads

Now some of you when we were talking about roading last year and the potholes and the damage being done to cars and trucks, the state of the roads, some of you might have been wondering what on Earth were banging on about? Most of us don't drive far. Short car trips under 2kms make up nearly a third of all car trips. So, listening to people talking about the appalling state of our roading infrastructure was probably not something directly affecting you.

But perhaps over Christmas, if you managed to get away, you got the dubious pleasure of experiencing our roads for yourselves. And driving to the conditions on occasion, the appalling conditions, means you may well have a greater appreciation for the concerns of the National Road Carriers Association, who say the biggest issue for the road transport industry is the shocking state of New Zealand roads.

According to Justin Tighe-Umbers, our road maintenance is getting worse every year as maintenance continues to fall behind. Less than half of the maintenance needed on our network is being carried out each year. And he says the stop start nature of government decisions around roading has to stop.

Absolutely, a 50 year plan would be fantastic. One that couldn't be hijacked by ideology or some blue sky thinking. 93% of our goods are delivered by truck and you can talk all you like about how that needs to change, this is what's happening right now. You want your bread, you want your milk, you want your chicken, you want your furniture. Basically, you want anything that makes your life a life a lifestyle. It's delivered by truck. And while we have that level of goods being delivered on the road, and while we have this level of degradation on our roads, it's costing you and me. When the trucking companies have to repair their trucks because of appalling potholes, they don't wear that themselves. They pass on that cost. And so we all have to pay for the degradation of our roads.

To be fair, it's not all about the Government or successive governments. Doug Wilson's a director of the Transportation Research Centre and he says that New Zealand is a large land mass that isn't particularly easy to traverse, that we have difficult geological materials that are quite young. That means there are a lot more unstable, a lot more shifting around. The weather conditions, the washouts, the slips, et cetera, that also contributes. That he does point out that we have 94,000 kilometres of road network. And he says, we're probably sealed far too much of that network, a lot of gravel roads were sealed as a political decision because you had small communities that had very good ginger groups and lobby groups and a decision was made in the 70s or 80s to seal those roads when they were never going to be economic.

However, that was then this is now. What's the solution? There are competing demands for a limited amount of money collected from the tax payer, but I would argue that while we have inflation out of control, while 93% of what you and I need is delivered by truck, then the roads are a priority and certainly Chris Hipkins needs to prioritise fixing our roads. A road map for Chris Hipkins to success, the very first step would be prioritise fixing our roads.

Kerre McIvor, is a journalist, radio presenter, author and columnist. Currently hosts the Kerre Woodham mornings show on Newstalk ZB


K said...

Fix the roads with... massively inferior imported from South America hotmix?
Just another reason why Marsden Point should have bought (400 mil) and retained. Quality hotmix, CO2 production, storage, diesel refining.
No doubt other worthy products.
It has been sabotaged rather than moth-balled.
Another addition to the 5 years of bungling competence.

Robert Arthur said...

Be careful what you wish for. I suspect much of the problem is absurd low profile tyres, frail alloy rims, and small ground clearance, all features not suited to NZ. Having to keep eyes on the road and to curtail speed in some circumstances is preferable to endless sections of 30 kph restriction whilst roads are under repair. (Most with actual work at times never observed.) Or lengthy delays at one way sections, especially for unmanned lights with no oncoming traffic.
An effective anti speeding advert would merely remind drivers that in many cases they are simply hurryig to the next interminable traffic light hold up.