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Rocky road ahead for Chapel St

Sealing of a part of Chapel St – between Pak’nSave and The Warehouse – has deteriorated. PHOTO/JOHN LAZO-RON

Driving along parts of Masterton’s Chapel St [State Highway 2] has become a bumpy ride of late, with the road’s sealing deteriorating rapidly, causing concern for AA Wairarapa chairman Craig Bowyer.

Bowyer said Chapel St averaged up to 20,000 vehicles on it each day and that it was simply a matter of time before a motorist or cyclist was injured due to the fast-forming potholes.

“If you drive about Chapel St, you can see what’s happening to the road with these big potholes coming up,” he said.

“We have thousands who are using this road every day, but no maintenance is being done, so the whole thing’s becoming quite dangerous.

“It’s getting to a stage where a cyclist will get caught up in one and get injured.”

One of Bowyer’s most significant causes for concern was the pothole that had started to form on the left-hand lane [northbound] between Pak’nSave and The Warehouse.

The seal on that part of the road had substantially deteriorated, with many stones lingering on the road.

It was difficult for vehicles, cars and trucks alike to avoid the damaged part of Chapel St, and it was easy to see and hear the impact it was having on vehicle suspension.

Bowyer said it was one example of the lack of road maintenance that was much needed. And the longer it was unattended, the more road maintenance and vehicle repair costs would skyrocket.

“The one by the Warehouse is quite bad,” he said.

“You can’t just leave it the way it is because if nothing gets done, it’ll just get worse for the road and for users.

“The repair work would get worse, and it’s also wear and tear on vehicle suspension and tyres, causing drivers to spend more money.

“The whole thing just snowballs.”

New Zealand Transport Agency maintenance operations manager Mark Owen said the authority constantly monitored the state highway network and had an ongoing programme of works to maintain the roads.

“Heavy rainfall, like what we’ve experienced recently, tends to exacerbate damage to the more vulnerable pavement areas.

“The section of Chapel Street directly beside Pak’nSave was last resurfaced in 2005, while a section further along from this was resurfaced in 2017.

“Generally, for Chapel St, the surface age varies along the full length – resurfacing on some sections of the road occurred in 2005, while other sections were resurfaced between seven and nine years ago or in 2017.

“Currently, almost all of Chapel Street is scheduled for resurfacing within the next three years, with plans to rebuild some sections.”

He said that in the meantime, NZTA would make temporary repairs of potholes that have appeared in the road.

“It is more difficult to undertake permanent repairs to potholes in winter because this requires warm and dry weather conditions.”

NZTA undertakes regular temporary pothole repairs during winter, followed by permanent repairs in summer when conditions are more suitable.

Bowyer understood road maintenance repairs were not always feasible during winter due to worsening weather, which he said was more of a concern because it could be five months before something is done.

“Because we’re now getting into winter, I’m aware the time of the year may not be right,” he said.

“The chance of that all getting fixed will be pretty slow, but we’ve got to fix it otherwise, the road will be real bad by November or December if nothing is done.

“By then, it will be a major problem.”

Bowyer said he wanted to see Wairarapa roads brought up to standard and planned to address the issue with NZTA.

Chapel St is a part of the State Highway network, therefore funded by NZTA.

It won’t be the first time Chapel St’s problems will be brought to NZTA’s attention.

Wairarapa Road Safety Council manager Bruce Pauling said he let NZTA know of the road’s deterioration more than two weeks ago. He hadn’t heard back.

“Two and half weeks ago, the road started to break up, so I took photos and sent them off to NZTA but haven’t heard back from them,” he said.

“If a pothole gets deep enough, it can cause problems for vehicles, so hopefully they’ll follow that up and that it’ll be fixed in good time, but that’s all I can do for now.”

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