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Residents despair at disrepair

A group of Martinborough residents are concerned and frustrated about the ongoing disrepair of their road, which they say is worsening despite complaints to South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC].

The residents – who prefer to remain anonymous – have told the Times-Age the surface of Dublin St in central Martinborough has degraded, with more recent unrepaired corrugations and potholes causing intermittent noise at all hours.

A SWDC councillor said they were aware of some of the issues, and although a fix is not currently on the work programme, SWDC is arranging a meeting with residents.

Residents’ concerns include intrusive noise, ongoing disruption, and possible adverse health consequences.

“We are constantly disrupted by heavy trade vehicles crashing and banging when bouncing on the potholes and undulations in the road,” they said.

“These are becoming increasingly disruptive as the road breaks up and subsides.

“Bulk carriers and cattle and sheep transport trucks have steel panels which reverberate like thunder when the truck is jolted by an uneven road.

“You can hear these trucks as they turn the corner from SH53 into Princess St, which is three blocks away, and you can hear their progress banging and crashing from there all along the road, into Dublin St. Banging and banging and crashing all along it until they slow down to turn right into Jellicoe St.”

And the noise is becoming worse, the residents claimed.

“When the empty trailers bounce over the poorly repaired trenches across Dublin St the resulting noise is extremely loud. Large livestock transport trucks, log trucks, and milk tankers make significantly less noise when fully loaded than when empty.

“If you are standing in the front yard, or inside the house with the window or door open, and you are on the phone or in conversation with someone, you have to stop and wait for the banging and crashing to subside before you can commence again,” one resident said.

“The number of potholes and undulations are increasing, and this is, of course, making the sound problem worse.”

Dublin St and Princess St together form a heavy traffic bypass through the outskirts of Martinborough village. Heavy stock and other trucks that service the rural hinterland of South Wairarapa use these two streets to travel through the small town.

The residents feel SWDC has ignored them, and the road is overdue for remedial work.

“Little consideration has been taken of the residents’ concerns – this is reflected in two new footpaths being constructed on [nearby] Greenaway Place off Dublin St, but the potholes on Dublin St remain,” said one.

Residents who have lived in the street for more than 25 years do not recall major resurfacing of the road, only patched repairs.

While letters have been sent by residents over the past few years – with receipt acknowledged by SWDC – a satisfactory reply has not been received.

“More of us began writing to the council over a year ago [from April last year].”

At the time, residents received an encouraging reply, but there has been little progress since then.

In August last year, a road crew seen carrying out tests on the road told some residents they were testing the road in preparation for resurfacing the street “this summer” – but the resurfacing did not happen.

“Since that time, some of us have written several more letters, as summer came and went, and nothing has been done.”

Further correspondence in December, February, and May has not been acknowledged.

“I was one of the residents who spoke to the Fulton Hogan team carrying out tests on the road in August 2022.

“Unfortunately, the only result of those tests is more potholes and subsidence where they dug test sites and patched them up,” said one.

That resident said correspondence from SWDC has promised work would be done, but a follow-up email has had no reply.

South Wairarapa councillor Aidan Ellims, chair of the
Infrastructure and Community Services Committee, said the council has been investigating complaints made by residents about traffic noise on the bypass and intends to meet with them shortly.

He said the main problem is service trenches that cross the full width of the road and have subsided over time.

Ellims agreed the noise is loud.

“Most of these are water trenches that were worked on many years ago. The most recent condition rating for the bypass identifies some cracking, some potholes and subsided hydrants that need attention, and poor joints at several places,” Ellims said.

“We haven’t been able to get monitors installed to measure the noise, but we have visited the road at several different times during the day and observed the traffic. The noise from unloaded trucks and articulated trucks is very loud. Remediation would mean digging up the service trenches [around 10-15 of them] and renewing them, while also repairing some potholes. The surfaces of the repairs would then need to be sealed,” Ellims said.

SWDC estimates the road’s average daily traffic count at 1060, with 16 per cent being heavy traffic.

“That is on the light side of usage for a road of that type.”

The work is estimated to cost about $35,000 and would involve the road closing for about 10 days.

“Looking through the work programme, there are several road surface faults loaded in our contractors’ system, but no remediation of the road is scheduled,” Ellims said.

“If this work is programmed, other planned and emergency work would be slowed down.”

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