Awaited

Bush Telegraph - - FOCUS ON FARMING - By DAVE MUR­DOCH

Con­cern about the con­di­tion of Route 52 be­tween We­ber and Her­bertville boiled over with a mes­sage left on the road re­cently.

Some­one had writ­ten “Fix this bloody road” on the high­way.

Road­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion the Tararua Al­liance says there is help com­ing, but it needs to de­velop a ma­jor project ex­pected to cost $10 mil­lion to fix the route per­ma­nently.

“Route 52, formerly State High­way 52, was placed back un­der Coun­cil man­age­ment in the 1980s.

The Route runs the en­tire length of Tararua Dis­trict be­tween Cen­tral Hawke’s Bay and Wairarapa. It is a vi­tal link for our ru­ral and coastal com­mu­ni­ties. Route 52 is also an im­por­tant freight link, par­tic­u­larly for forestry trav­el­ling to Napier Port.

The sec­tion of Route 52 be­tween We­ber and the north­ern bound­ary with Cen­tral Hawke’s Bay, via Wim­ble­don, is in poor shape, and has been for some time.

The road lacks the pave­ment strength and width to safely han­dle the large heavy ve­hi­cles now us­ing it.

The for­ma­tion and ge­ol­ogy of the sur­round­ing land also make the road sus­cep­ti­ble to dam­age, such as sub­si­dence, slips and dropouts, dur­ing bad weather.

The long, wind­ing and nar­row road is quickly de­te­ri­o­rat­ing as a re­sult and mo­torists, es­pe­cially lo­cals, are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly frus­trated.

Tararua Dis­trict Coun­cil and the Tararua Al­liance, Coun­cil’s trans­port and retic­u­la­tion in­fra­struc­ture al­liance with Downer, are well aware of the is­sues.

Sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments to the route be­tween We­ber and Cen­tral Hawke’s Bay were pro­posed in Coun­cil’s lat­est Long Term Plan for 2018-2028, con­sulted on and adopted ear­lier this year.

“We are def­i­nitely aware of the state of Route 52 and ac­knowl­edge the on­go­ing frus­tra­tion of road users, we’re plan­ning to do some­thing about it,” Tararua Al­liance Man­ager Chris Chap­man says.

The Tararua Al­liance team and con­sul­tant part­ners have been de­vel­op­ing the busi­ness case for the project.

The case is re­quired by the NZ Trans­port Agency to jus­tify the pro­posed cen­tral govern­ment sub­sidy – at least $6.6 mil­lion of the to­tal $10 mil­lion bud­get

pro­posed for the project.

The Tararua Al­liance has also an­a­lysed, sur­veyed and in­ves­ti­gated the road, for both the busi­ness case and devel­op­ment of a mas­ter de­sign list.

The list de­tails all po­ten­tial im­prove­ments which could be made, in­clud­ing road widen­ing, pave­ment strength­en­ing, drainage im­prove­ments, re­place­ment of re­tain­ing walls, re­align­ment of curves, in­stal­la­tion of guardrails, im­proved sig­nage and sight dis­tance and strength­en­ing of bridges.

The pri­mary driv­ers of the project are to im­prove the safety, ac­ces­si­bil­ity and re­silience of the road.

The up­grades are also ex­pected to im­prove aes­thetic aspects of the road, such as travel com­fort and at­trac­tive­ness, en­cour­ag­ing fur­ther tourism traf­fic us­ing Route 52 which adds to the lo­cal econ­omy.

“Safe and re­li­able jour­neys are im­por­tant, as is af­ford­abil­ity, Mr Chap­man said.

“We need to en­sure fu­ture in­vest­ment in the road pro­vides long-term so­lu­tions, treat­ing the causes of the is­sues rather than just the symp­toms”.

“Pro­vided NZ Trans­port Agency ap­proves fund­ing, the project is planned to be­gin in 2019 and be com­pleted by the end of the 2021/22 fi­nan­cial year.

“While this may not be soon enough for some, in­clud­ing those who’ve re­cently painted on the road, it will be a bless­ing for oth­ers who have tol­er­ated bumpy rides for the past few decades.”

We need to en­sure fu­ture in­vest­ment in the road pro­vides long-term so­lu­tions, treat­ing the causes of the is­sues rather than just the symp­toms.’

CHRIS CHAP­MAN Tararua Al­liance Man­ager

Drone footage of the mes­sage re­flect­ing lo­cal frus­tra­tion about the state of the We­ber to Wim­ble­don sec­tion of Route 52.

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