Plan to deliver better rural roads
WITH AN EXTRA HALF-MILLION LOG TRUCK journeys taking place on rural roads over the past 15 years it’s little wonder that many of them are suffering under the increased usage, especially as maintenance hasn’t always kept pace.
The solution being applied by some local authorities who are under-resourced is to slug forest owners with extra charges to help pay for road maintenance and upgrading when harvesting begins.
Inevitably, that approach leads to conflict, forestry consultant Brett Gilmore told the Woodflow 2018 conference in Rotorua last month.
The response from forest owners has been ‘hey, we’ve been paying rates for 28 years when no trucks were using these roads, these extra charges are unfair’.
With entrenched positions on both sides, little gets done and the roads continue to deteriorate.
But, everyone agrees that something needs to be done to ensure rural roads are fit for purpose and the NZ Forest Owners Association has charged its Transport and Logistics Committee to work more closely with local authorities to arrive at a solution.
The aim is to provide a consistent national approach to paying for roads and ensure there is a fair and equitable charge for all users, as well as providing local authorities with better information on when and were harvesting is going to take place.
The committee has funded three projects over the past year. The first being to develop equitable funding guidelines; the second to use GIS transport spatial modelling of woodflow to show where the log trucks are driving; and the third is for a survey of rural roads.
Those three projects will be drawn together later this year and presented to the Road Controlling Authorities Forum for discussion about improving on the current unsatisfactory system.