Road repair rage

Leigh McKinnon’s had a “gutful” of watching workmen “repairing repaired repairs” on the road outside his Aongatete home.

And he accuses Western Bay of Plenty District Council of being “wasteful and incompetent”.

Disgruntled Wright Rd resident Leigh McKinnon. Photo: Chris Callinan.

The straight-talking, 22-year Wright Road resident reckons 90 per cent of maintenance to his road is repairs to repairs.

“The job should be done once and properly – but our road is a patchwork of shoddy workmanship,” he says.

Recently a pothole was fixed in the morning; by afternoon Leigh says it was just “scattered balls of bitumen”.

Wright Road’s not a minefield of potholes. “But it does suffer ‘edge-break’,” concedes WBOPDC transportation manager Alex Finn.

“That’s where the outer wheels of cars on narrow carriageways damage the edge of the seal.”

It’s the ‘repaired repairs’ to edge-break Leigh says delivers a bumpy, difficult and dangerous drive. “Tough on cars, expensive for drivers,” he adds.

WBOPDC’s website says the level of service is set to a standard that’s affordable and roads are safe –but Leigh challenge this.

“There’s a way to fix a road,” says the engineer who supervised a $50,000 sealing of his own one kilometre-long driveway – thereby claiming some expertise.

“Cut the affected area into a rectangle, excavate, refill with metal and compact to a solid base. Top up with cold mix and compact. It’ll last forever.”

But Leigh claims he’s watched council contractors “short-cutting” – filling holes with hot mix. “Inefficient, expensive and unacceptable,” he adds.

WBOPDC’s road maintenance contract is “performance based” – it’s the final product that’s measured, not how it’s achieved. “[So] the ratepayer doesn’t pay for repeat repairs,” says Alex.

This contract is industry best practice, has won awards and is good value, says Alex. “Obviously, there’s too much fat in the contract,” says Leigh.

Last week, just hours after The Weekend Sun approached WBOPDC, a roading gang arrived outside Leigh’s place. “Thirty-seven major repairs were made. Bit of a coincidence,” he says.

The council explains it’s a “holding strategy”.

“The carriageway is old and it’s become more economical to reconstruct than repair; that’ll start next year,” says Alex. Leigh’s sceptical. “They promised that in 1992. I’m waiting.”


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