Taranaki mayors’ forum calls for action on poor state of area highways

The atrocious state of Taranaki’s highways was the subject of a letter sent by area mayors to the transport minister last week. Photo / Ilona Hanne

The three mayors of Taranaki and the President of the Regional Council have written to the Minister of Transport about the “atrocious state of the highways in Taranaki”.

A letter from the Taranaki Municipal Forum to Minister Michael Wood was sent last week raising concerns about the current state of roads in the area.

“We have communicated in the past about the appalling condition of our SH3s, SH3As and SH45s via Taranaki,” the letter begins.

“We have been given many excuses as to why these roads are in such poor condition, but the fact remains that there has been a complete lack of investment in the network for a considerable number of years.”

The letter, signed by New Plymouth Mayor Neil Holdom, South Taranaki Mayor and Forum Chairman Phil Nixon, Stratford Mayor Neil Volzke and Taranaki Regional Council Chairman David MacLeod, says recent bad weather has resulted in the damage of several cars due to the poor road conditions in question.

“Due to the very poor condition of our roads, we have very recently experienced unprecedented amounts of potholes, particularly on SH3, in part due to recent rain events. We have had reports (and seen photographs) of several cars stopped on the side of the roads in a number of locations, either changing tires or waiting for recovery vehicles to remove vehicles with multi-wheel and suspension damage.”

Citing damage to emergency vehicles, as well as damage to members of the public – with examples given of a police car losing two wheels and an ambulance suffering from damaged tires and ripping off a bumper – the letter asks what what Waka Kotahi plans to do to remedy the problem.

“We understand that nationally, Waka Kotahi sweats its assets, and that from 2015 to 2020, the average age of seals across the country has increased from 6.86 to 7.96 years and the lifespan remaining average of seals has increased from 2.18 to 1.23 years We would like Waka Kotahi to advise Taranaki’s statistics on the age and lifespan of seals over the past decade, and the approach for solve these problems in the short, medium and long term.”

The condition of roads in the area that fall under Waka Kotahi’s management is unacceptable, the letter said. Pointing out that local roads in the area, which are maintained by the relevant local council, are not in the same poor condition, the letter disputes Waka Kotahi’s claim that Covid-19 or a specific soil type is to blame for some of the current issues.

“The condition of our highways is totally unacceptable and affects our Taranaki transport network in many ways. Our local roads on the whole are maintained to a far superior standard than the national highways and they are built on the same” volcanic soils’, from the same materials, and [were] maintained during the same “Covid-19 pandemic” as our national highways. To suggest that Covid-19 is to blame for some of the problems is incorrect.”

Action is needed, they say, warning that without major improvements to the area’s roads in the near future, it is likely that “serious injuries could occur, given the dangerous evasive actions people have to take when ‘they drive on national highways’.

Melvin B. Baillie