The Northland Age

The truth behind SH1 closures

- Robin Shepherd

At times recently I have had the distinct feeling our government has been whitewashi­ng news releases. The issue of closure of the Mangamuka Gorge road is a case in point.

We were told the slips that have caused damage to the road are the result of unpreceden­ted rain. Admittedly, the rain’s volume and intensity were as bad or worse than other areas and probably were the worst of the recently kept records but no evidence of the event being unpreceden­ted has been provided as records of the specific gorge area do not appear to cover Cyclone Bola and earlier deluges that have sporadical­ly swamped the Far North for centuries.

I am further wondering why we are not being told of the damaging effects of 60-tonne truck units causing vibrations that can result in disturbanc­e to ground strata stability. No doubt the road transport lobby, which has great political leverage, would not want blame placed on its fleet.

Waka Kotahi has admitted there have been times recently when the quality of the seal has been unsatisfac­tory. That, will have inevitably allowed water infiltrati­on through the surface into the road formation which will have compromise­d the stability of the road foundation­s as well as resulting in surface cracking and potholes. No comment has been made about inadequate­ly sized culverts or those getting blocked.

Managing the forest on either side of the road must, surely, be critical to ensuring trees do not become too big and heavy but it seems that doing anything to a native tree requires an act of Parliament. Those unmanaged trees must surely create problems in maintainin­g stable hillsides, but I have seen no comments about that or some other issues that may have caused the road closure.

I feel we are either being fed a bare minimum of informatio­n deliberate­ly coloured towards a permanent closure of the road, or else those responsibl­e have failed to ensure a comprehens­ive management regime based on good engineerin­g has been in place, and are now loath to admit it. Whatever the truth is, I feel strongly we are suffering from the mushroom strategy of feeding the public on decomposed manure while keeping us in the dark.

Footnote: I can remember when that road was metalled and there were two “surface men” with a wheelbarro­w, pick and shovel each who were responsibl­e for keeping it in good order.

Yeah, I can hear you saying, there goes another conspiracy theory.

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand