NZTA said, temporary warning signs were needed on emerging crash sites such as Masterton-Castlepoint Rd, west of Te Kanuka Rd where several vehicle drivers have lost control and left the road. PHOTO/FILE
Council still waiting on NZTA funding
Masterton District Council has had a ticking off from the New Zealand Transport Agency for the state of the roads in the district, particularly from a road safety perspective.
The council manages 807km of roads, of which 65 per cent are sealed, and 250 bridges.
In an audit NZTA, which manages highways, gave the council a rating of “some improvement needed” and said major improvement was needed in road safety and activity management planning for the council roads.
The council’s roading network was said to be generally adequate but showing signs of long-term deterioration.
The number of deaths and serious injuries due to road crashes in the district had been at a high but stable level of about nine a year for many years before spiking to 23 from 19 crashes in 2017/18.
Of the 19 crashes 58 per cent were rural and 42 per cent were at night. Five involved trucks and six involved motorcycles.
Council officers said in a report the latest year had reverted to the five-year DSI average, but “this remains an area for improvement for the council”.
NZTA said most of the length of Masterton-Castlepoint Rd, from Te Ore Ore-Bideford Rd to Charles St, was identified on MegaMaps, a Safe Journeys Risk Assessment Tool, as a corridor with high-risk curves.
David Hopman, the council’s manager of assets and operations, said the NZTA Investment Audit report was a noted warning for council.
He also said the council had applied to NZTA in January for funding for a $1 million safety improvement programme on the Masterton-Castlepoint Rd and was still yet to hear if it would happen.
“Once approved, many of the issues raised in the audit will be addressed,” the council report said.
Mayor Lyn Patterson said it was interesting that NZTA was telling the council that it needed to do better but it had to fund improvements “and at this stage we don’t know if they’re going to”.
Councillor Brent Goodwin said the report highlighted the dangers of council focusing on other things.
He said outside the meeting the council was increasing staffing numbers in areas such as communications, parks, and community rather than in key infrastructure areas.
He said inside the meeting that if council spent money elsewhere “it comes from somewhere else, always”.
Hopman said there were hills that moved on the Masterton-Castlepoint Rd and the council had spent $1m on stabilising one of them south of Tinui, which seemed to be working.
Mayoral contender Tina Nixon said on social media the report was damning reading, and a kick in the teeth for rural ratepayers. It was evidence the council was not focused on its core business.
“I must say that this is not due to the excellent staff at the council – this is due to strategic decisions made by council to up the anti [sic] on that feelgood fluff known as “well-being” and reduce roading expenditure,”
Patterson said the council had increased spending on roads in the past year.
Chief executive Kath Ross said NZTA had praised council staff in a letter accompanying the audit.
The NZTA report was done in May and praised the council for using low cost solutions, including using local materials for constructing roads, planting trees to stabilise slopes, and providing fords to back up failing bridges on low-volume roads.
The council’s surfacing costs per network of sealed kilometre was only 77 per cent of a peer group average and overall network maintenance costs were 84 per cent of the peer group average.
NZTA said the council did carry out road safety audits on improvement projects but did not fully comply with the agency’s requirements.
“We considered the slumps on the Te Ore Ore-Bideford Rd to be dangerous for unfamiliar drivers, but remedial work is not yet programmed and there are no warning signs,” the audit said.
Temporary warning of the hazard must be provided, it said.
Also, temporary warning signs were needed on emerging crash sites such as Masterton-Castlepoint Rd, west of Te Kanuka Rd, where several vehicle drivers had lost control and left the road.
NZTA wanted skid resistance testing at the site and a review of vertical and horizontal alignment in the crash investigations.
NZTA said several secondary collector roads had little or no delineation, yet the roads carried 57 per cent of rural traffic. During the past six years, 57 per cent of rural crashes had been on bends and 13 per cent at intersections.
NZTA said with increasing numbers of visiting drivers to the district, road delineation was a concern.
There needed to be better delineation of roads and curve-advisory signage.
Examples include Mataikona Rd, Masterton-Castlepoint Rd, Kaka Amu Rd and Opaki-Kaiparoro Rd.