Road sealing frustration

Posted at 12:49pm Monday 14 Sep, 2020

The vexed issue of the lack of funding to seal the region's extensive network of metalled roads was aired again at last month's Rodney Local Board meeting.

Wellsford member Colin Smith once again called for money from the Board's transport targeted rate to be transferred from park and rides in Warkworth and Kumeu to road sealing in rural areas.

“The Local Board needs to be returning this to our road sealing, which is not happening,” he said. “I'm concerned about our rural community not getting their fair share.”

His comments were made as members discussed funding a $47,000 Auckland Transport (AT) feasibility study into two potential sites for a park and ride at the Kumeu Showgrounds.

“Why are we getting this out of the transport targeted rate when Auckland is getting it for theirs from normal rates?” Mr Smith asked.

AT's elected member relationship manager, Ben Halliwell, said Kumeu would be a low priority location for AT.

“There is a limited pot of money, so we have to go for the biggest outcomes first,” he said. “Decisions around use of the targeted rate are made by the Local Board, so I can't answer why they've done that.”

Board chair Phelan Pirrie said targeted rate money collected in a particular area or subdivision was spent in that subdivision.

“You're asking for something to be done that the money's not being collected for,” he said. “There seems to be ongoing confusion. Members should be very clear on what it's collected for: public transport, public footpaths and park and rides – that's what it's for.”

A 10-year road sealing extension programme was originally part of the Local Board's proposal for a transport targeted rate, with an estimated spend of more than $13.5 million, in December 2017.

However, it was dropped when increased spending of $121 million was designated for sealing in the 2018-2018 Auckland Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP). More recently, an AT programme that was designed to bring forward and boost spending on unsealed roads was approved in May.

However, Covid-19 budget cuts have seen that spending deferred, with just $1 million allocated for the coming year.

“We have no say on how AT spends money on road sealing,” Mr Pirrie says. “You should take it up with our councillor, that's his role.”

Mr Smith thought the Board should adjust its own spending accordingly.

“Everything is on the back burner, we have nothing looking forward, except $1 million from AT,” he said.

“In light of all the things that have happened, we should at least be giving the rural community something.”

Mr Pirrie disagreed.

“Everyone's disappointed about the $1 million,” he said. “But it doesn't change the fact that it is in the RLTP that the budget lies for road sealing.”

Members voted to fund the feasibility study by seven votes to two, with Mr Smith and Tim Holdgate voting against.


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