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Residents see red on Reading St

Roadworks began on Greytown’s Reading St over six months ago, but walking through the site, you’d be forgiven for thinking it only started last week, and residents are over it.

The road is partially closed, there’s machinery, signage noting the roadworks, and large mounds of gravel and dust.

There were contractors on site this week, but some of the street’s residents are perturbed at the lack of activity for long spells since the works began in March.

South Wairarapa District Council roading manager Tim Langley said the initial completion date was meant to be now, in October.

“Discussions are in motion with Higgins Contracting to firm up the completion date which we will share once we know more.”

The works are a condition of the resource consent for the development of the Orchards Retirement Village.

When asked about delays, Langley noted the “extremely wet winter”, how in the early stages covid had an impact on getting resources on-site, and other hindrances – for example, “There were a few days’ delay due to the removal of the asbestos water race culvert and associated bulk earthworks.”

One resident, who wanted to stay anonymous, told the Times-Age there have been prolonged periods of time when it’s seemed like nothing is happening and no contractors are on site.

“People thought the Masterton roundabout was bad. It’s got nothing on this,” they said.

“If they’ve worked more than 50 per cent of the time, I’ll eat my hat.”

Another resident who also wanted to remain anonymous said they observed about seven days of full work in the first month.

“It was clear that this project was not going to proceed on time. There has been poor communication from all parties, we’ve had one email from the council, and one letter from Higgens,” they said.

“That’s all we got, the rest of the time we just watch the dust rise and bugger all else happens.”

Both residents agreed that while they aren’t opposed to improving the infrastructure, they are extremely disappointed with the communication from both the council and contractor, and don’t believe there was adequate planning before the work was started.

Langley said that, up to this point, the road carriageway has been excavated and backfilled, an extended footpath installed, the water race culvert replaced, and a kerb and channel installed.

He listed a raft of complaints the council has received over this time regarding slow progress, health and safety, site condition, potholes, proposed finish levels, and dust and mud.

There have also been complaints about the “lack of progress and absenteeism from the site by Higgins”, and the contractor’s communication.

Both of the frustrated residents also pointed out the issues the ongoing works have created for traffic on East St at Greytown School’s drop off and pick up time.

One resident said that normally the school pick-up routes are split evenly between East St and Reading St, but since parents were advised not to use Reading St due to the works, East St has become incredibly congested.

“The school is just being shafted. They’ve got a complete mess over there.”

Greytown School Board of Trustees chairperson David Ross said the roadworks are causing “a heck of a lot of congestion”.

“I’ve seen a lot of parents turning up really early to get parks. It’s worse in the afternoon because everyone’s turning up at the same time.”

Citing a few near misses, Ross said the level of traffic is definitely a safety issue at times.

“There’s so many cars and people interacting, it’s been a real struggle,” Ross said.

“We’d be very keen to see an end to the roadworks soon.”

Councillor Aidan Ellims, who chairs the council’s Infrastructure and Community Services Committee, said the works were approved by the previous council, and endorsed by elected members.

“We understand there have been unforeseen issues such as the asbestos culvert and one of the wettest winters for more than 20 years,” Ellims said.

“We are eagerly awaiting our contractors getting this delivered as soon as possible.”


  1. This is what happens in all three district councils and they always blame the contractors who are governed so many regulations put in place by government and themselves. It needs to stop ✋ 😫.

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Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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