Dust lingering on gravel roads is causing headaches for Waitaki residents.
Waianakarua, Herbert and Weston residents were among many who voiced their concerns at the Waitaki District Council’s long-term plan hearings on Monday and Tuesday.
Tutu Hill Rd resident Peter Welch said it was a health and safety concern for residents, especially children in the area.
The Weston road was so badly covered in dust, children riding their bikes could not see anything once a car drove past them. It could also create long-term respiratory issues for residents, he said.
“It’s very dangerous for people walking with prams, and the speed that people go down there in their cars is unbelievable,” Mr Welch said.
Drivers had no respect for the road, travelling well above the 60kmh speed limit. If the road was sealed, residents wanted the speed lowered again to 50kmh, and Mr Welch also suggested large trucks should be banned from using the road.
Councillor Jim Thomson drove along Tutu Hill Rd himself on Tuesday morning, and said he sympathised with residents.
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher also acknowledged it was time the council looked at the issue again.
In Herbert, Reid Rd resident Chris van Ballekom said dust had been a problem for at least 30 years.
The situation was “intolerable” and residents were concerned about the air quality in and outside their homes, and the health implications.
The road was being used more and more, due to the popular Herbert Forest mountain bike trails and swimming holes. The speed limit was recently reduced to 60kmh but it did nothing to fix the problem, Mr van Ballekom said.
“I drive it at 20km an hour and that almost keeps the dust down. We get a lot of trucks coming out of the quarry and it’s horrific what you see coming past those trucks.”
Councillor Bill Kingan said it was quite a big issue across the district.
“We’ve got 1200km of gravel roads in the district, so we’ve actually got 1200km of problems, if you like,” Cr Kingan said.
Waianakarua Rd homeowners wanted their roads sealed before the proposed development of a new quarry.
Resident Christine Holland said everyone should have the ability to enjoy their rural lifestyle without worrying about dust.
“We all want the ability to hang our washing on the line, open our windows, pull up and down out driveway safely and have our school kids catching the bus,” Mrs Holland said.
“I’m not against development in the district, but rural roads are often not designed for heavy use and if you allow the use, upgrade the road.”
Her parents lived in Tokarahi, and they were unable to open their windows when forestry trucks travelled past during summer because of the dust.
Mr Kircher said some issues needed to be looked at in the district plan review as well, and the council needed to look at how the side effects of road use were impacting on the lives of residents the area.
Council staff were asked to seek more information about the health risks associated with dust from gravel roads.