Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Actually investing in the Road to Zero

Our roads are chipped, pot-holed or peeling onto car tyres, yet Waka Kotahi NZTA has declared all accountability of roads on the drivers. 

I’ve written and ranted about the Road to Zero, which cost taxpayers $4.7 million, as the most pointless advertising campaign done in this country’s history. As the campaign tells drivers that we’re all accountable for anything that happens on the road.

Anyone who is honest and in the know should be declaring this campaign a failure. It is not only costly and pointless, but with three weeks left of 2022, we’re one fatal crash away from the deadliest road toll in a decade. 

Among the guilt-tripping adverts, the transport agency also opted to lower speed limits instead of repairing potholes. It proceeded to make Napier-Taupo Rd 80kmh despite angry objections, the speed reduction became one of several main roads to be reduced. 

I’ll happily drive the Remutaka Hill Rd at 60kmh because I’m a closet nana on the winding roads, but I’ll let the boy racers proceed at their own risk.

Right now, drivers are expected to tolerate several cock-ups from our road maintenance. Let’s be fair and say the extreme weather this year has caused potholes to appear faster than the agency can repair them. But the ones that weren’t fixed within a reasonable time got bigger, deeper, and filled with water. 

Palmerston North residents had enough, to the point of starting a Facebook page dedicated to water-filled potholes, which they filled with rubber ducks. Another resident filled the holes with a concrete mix from Mitre 10. The local council was suitably unimpressed. Maybe the council should’ve gotten on it sooner. 

If you’re not irked by a pothole, you’d be irked by an awful patch-up on the backroad to Martinborough. 

Time and time again, the road surface is not fit for purpose, not just existing roads, but new roads too. On Sunday, a newly repaired road came unstuck on State Highway 1 north of Auckland, sticking onto car tyres. 

The day Transmission Gully opened, the brand new, four-lane highway, 100 years in the making, the speed limit was reduced to 70kmh due to flying chips. 

The cheap materials used to lay our roads mean more roadworks in the long run. The many times we have to re-lay the road begs the question, why didn’t we just invest in sturdy road materials in the first place? 

Whoever is in charge of what materials to use on the roads, if they don’t consider the users complaining about the potholes and roadworks, please consider climate change. We’ve been warned of extreme heat, extreme cold, and extreme rain. Consider materials that won’t melt in the hot sun and that won’t dilute in severe rain. 

If the Romans can build roads to withstand 2000 years of extreme events, surely a group of qualified engineers can produce something on par 2000 years later?

So if on our road to zero, we’re all accountable – pulling over to answer the phone, electing a sober driver, and keeping our cars ‘roadworthy’, then please, Waka Kotahi, make our roads car-worthy. 



Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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