The abysmal state of roads in the Dome Valley area has drawn the ire of road users and caused Fulton Hogan to issue an apology, but the Government owes taxpayers an apology too, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.
“The Government has been explicit in its reluctance to spend their enormous transport budget on roading, preferring to allocate millions to advertising and communications for their Road To Zero campaign,” says the Taxpayers’ union campaign manager Callum Purves.
“We all want to see fewer deaths on our roads, but the Government’s priorities are all wrong. Their vague Road to Zero public awareness advertising campaign comes with an eye-watering price tag of more than $15 million. This is an example of the Government’s splurging on flashy comms campaigns over practical projects.
“Reducing the road toll is not a burden that can be placed solely on New Zealanders through slashing speed limits with a few strikes of a pen in Wellington. Roads that are in a state of dangerous disrepair or receive shoddy work contribute to the death toll and the Government and councils need to take responsibility for that.
“While cars remain the mode of transport most Kiwis rely on, spending on roads maintenance should be the bread and butter for the transport minister over and above pet projects that serve niche populations.”
Taking the blame
The latest road sealing fail, at the northern end of Dome Valley, involving new chip-seal on SH1 falling apart and sticking to tyres and cars (along with other seal lifting) raises the question – who is ultimately in charge of a road build/repair contract, asks Contractor magazine?
Roading regulations, techniques (such as emulsion binding, as opposed to hot-cut-back), contracts and, importantly funding (using chip-seal instead of asphalt on high traffic roads) are in the hands of the Transport Agency. It should also be noted that roading transport funding is ultimately in the hands of the Government.
In the case of Dome Valley, which handles very heavy traffic flows, the Transport Agency was quick to say the resealing work fell “short of expectations” and encouraged anyone who had damage to their vehicle to lodge a compensation claim with the lead contractor, Fulton Hogan.