A new foundation for Taranaki highways is not a cheap solution

Taranaki’s climate and geological conditions make road construction particularly difficult, but they should not be used as excuses for the poor condition of the region’s highways, a roads committee official said.

Roger Maxwell heads the State Highway 3 task force. It is his job to liaise with the Waka Kotahi NZ transport agency and both plan and advocate for millions of dollars in road funding.

It is not an easy job. During the winter months, State Highay 3 in Taranaki is particularly troublesome. Littered with potholes, it’s a patchwork of temporary repairs that don’t stay fixed for long.

The state of the road makes travel uncomfortable and dangerous.

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State Highway 3 task force chairman Roger Maxwell said road repairs on SH3 are falling short.

Jonathan Cameron / Stuff

State Highway 3 task force chairman Roger Maxwell said road repairs on SH3 are falling short.

Maxwell recognizes that Taranaki’s precipitation and soft volcanic soils do not help roads resilient. But these factors shouldn’t be used as an excuse, he said.

Using materials harder and more durable than local andesite rock was expensive to find outside of the region, but it had to be done.

“The money has to be invested at the grassroots, with better basic material used,” Maxwell said.

Constant lobbying was the only way to make improvements to SH3. Much of the “problem” is insufficient funding to properly repair the road, he said.

“It’s a constant battle to fix potholes, but high quality repairs take money, which is the problem, and there isn’t a lot of money spent in Taranaki.”

“There is a lot of patching of road surfaces, but the quality is not there, the repair work is done cheaply.

Earlier this month, New Zealand transport agency Waka Kotahi said road crews would be in Taranaki during the winter to fill in potholes caused by the wet weather and put up signs to warn motorists where potholes are likely to appear.

The agency’s system manager, Ross I’Anson, said many potholes have formed on some of the region’s busiest roads, with the worst affected areas being SH3A and SH3 between New Plymouth and Pātea.

I’Anson said the agency intends to do “a significant amount” of work to improve the condition of these roads over the next four years.

The Taranaki Regional Council recently adopted its 2021 / 22-2026 / 27 Regional Land Transport Plan putting it in a position to bid for funding from Waka Kotahi through the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF).

The plan requested $ 1.2 billion, including $ 909.2 million from the NLTF, for roads, public transport, bike paths and infrastructure.

Taranaki Regional Council Land Transport Committee Chairman Matthew McDonald.

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Taranaki Regional Council Land Transport Committee Chairman Matthew McDonald.

TRC’s regional transport committee chair Matthew McDonald said council wouldn’t know what local projects might go forward until the agency finalizes the 2021 National Ground Transportation Program in August. .

“Ensuring the future efficiency and safety of SH3 roads is our key priority for the region,” McDonald said in an email response to the questions.

SH3 was an important link to markets, vital for industry and commerce and a critical corridor for the dairy industry, especially for Hāwera in Palmerston North.

McDonald said the role of the committee was to hold Waka Kotahi to account and champion the region’s key priorities.

The committee’s position was that the roads and related infrastructure in Taranaki had not been built for this purpose, he said.

“Many fail due to age or use beyond their intended capacity, such as logging trucks on rural access roads.

“This is a serious problem for Taranaki that we have specifically described in our regional land transport plan and that we want to see resolved.

“It is important to ensure the maintenance of roads and infrastructure such as bridges here, to continue to facilitate freight, safety and road resilience.”