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Accessway debate is getting heavy

Greytown residents already slighted by significant rate increases in the district are concerned about the prospect of increased heavy trucks on backroads, but the council deems the road surfaces would cope with additional pressure.

A resource consent application hearing is looming for Woolworth NZ’s divisive proposal to build an accessway off SH2 to its FreshChoice supermarket in Greytown.

Concerns surrounding roading infrastructure and the impact of an increase in heavy vehicle traffic to the area were raised by several submitters.

Greytown resident and retired truck operator David Lloyd has doubts that the roading infrastructure surrounding the supermarket is hardy enough for the proposed increase in load.

He said that although line-haul vehicles had increased in size and weight, council roads had not kept up.

“Our local streets are not designed to take these heavier trucks. They’re not designed for long multiple axle heavy vehicles,” Lloyd said.

“They’re talking a 23-metre long vehicle length, which is just under 76 feet long.

“And it will be up to the ratepayers to pay for damage, any alterations, or repairs. This is clearly a cost issue.”

The resource consent application maintains that to minimize safety risks, larger delivery vehicles will only turn left into the SH2 accessway.

Although it’s not discussed in the application, Lloyd said to achieve this, it was likely that delivery vehicles would be using North St, West St and Humphries St.

Drawing on his 50 years of experience driving Permitted Heavy Vehicles [PHVs] and managing his own haulage business, Lloyd had doubts these roads would cope.

“If you look at the road now, you’ll see it’s in a pretty sad state of affairs.

“These trucks can operate up to 58 tonnes. It appears quite clear to me that the SWDC would have a clear duty of care,” Lloyd said.

“To look into any extra maintenance costs that will occur in regard to the roading infrastructure due to the use of these very heavy vehicle combinations.”

Lloyd said that generally, PHVs required permits allowing them to drive on designated roads and that he believed there needed to be clarity on whether this included the three streets above.

“We live in an area that’s just had a 19.8 per cent increase in rates, part of which is spent on our numerous council roads that make up our very large district,” Lloyd said.

“This will put extra pressure on ratepayers who are being asked to pay for any damage that these very heavy vehicles may make if the proposal succeeds.

“Well, in my view, it’s outrageous.”

SWDC roading manager Tim Langley said North, West and Humphries Sts were designed to accommodate heavy vehicles, and all three were deemed suitable to carry PHVs.

“The streets are ‘collector streets’ and geometrically designed to accommodate heavy commercial vehicles,” Langley said.

“Each permit request is approved subject to restrictions. In 2022, there were in excess of 250 permits issued district-wide.”

SWDC was aware of permits currently operating for Humphries St, but “with over 500 current permits for district roads, a detailed analysis has not been undertaken”.

Langley said there was “normal wear and tear due to current traffic loading along West St”, generating four complaints this year.

“The impact on the road is deemed as fair wear and tear for which the initial road designs would have taken into account,” Langley said.

“All heavy vehicles contribute to wear and tear on the pavement. Generally, vans have no noticeable impact. Pavements are designed with a life based on heavy vehicle axle loading.”

Co-owner of Greytown’s Greyfriars Motel Michelle Dawson said she was also concerned about the potential impact on the road.

“Coming out of the supermarket and turning onto West St, the road is completely damaged and they keep patching it up,” Dawson said.

The recent hike in rates made her concerned about future council infrastructure maintenance.

“If we get another 20 per cent increase next year, I don’t know how we’ll carry on. There are people really willing to fight this. We want this knocked on the head once and for all.”

The hearing, which will determine the outcome of the resource consent application’s third iteration, is scheduled to take place on October 2 and 3.

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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