Kakanui could be about to get its ‘‘walkabout’’ feel back.
Work to address the deeply scoured roadsides, and control future scouring, as part of the upgrade of the coastal town’s stormwater system, could get under way as soon as next month.
Kakanui residents say it is welcome news, but the work is long overdue.
Five years ago, Waitaki District Council contractors began upgrading the town’s stormwater system, digging deep v-drain ditches, which created long roadside hollows. Residents complained that the ditches were often blocked, and caused erosion to roads and driveways.
In 2020, contractors returned to the fix the drains, but ended up making them deeper and wider.
Stirling St resident Jim O’Gorman said it had been a ‘‘comedy of errors’’.
The work in 2020 caused further damage, and made the roads more dangerous for pedestrians and motorists, Mr O’Gorman said. Vehicles could no longer pull off to the side of the road, and several had become stuck in the ditches in recent years.
‘‘We need our walking town back again, please. Having to jump into a ditch to get out of the way of the traffic is not a fun way to be,’’ he said.
The council confirmed it had advanced the budget from its 2022-23 annual plan programmes, and operational/ renewal programme budgets would also go towards the work. It would fix the system by way of buried pipe, with run-off to be channelled through grass swales and localised stormwater catchpits.
Roading manager Mike Harrison said work could start as early as April, but several things would need to ‘‘align’’ for that to happen as there were many other big construction projects under way.
‘‘We are seeking to quantify the costs and dates for delivery at present.’’
Mr O’Gorman was pleased the council had finally listened to the Kakanui community, but he raised concerns over who became responsible for the erosion to some residents’ driveways, which had happened as a result of the drainage system issues.
Residents argued the council should foot the bill for driveway repairs, as it was their work that had caused the problems, Mr O’Gorman said.
‘‘They’ve told us that the berms and swales will be back to what they previously were but there’s no conclusion on putting the crossings back in and I think that’s wrong.
‘‘This has taken five years to even acknowledge that there’s even a mistake and it’s taken almost a year to begin the remedy work.’’
Mr Harrison said the council understood Kakanui residents’ concerns, and he anticipated the coming work would make many of the existing vehicle crossings more accessible.
Initial work would be in Stirling, Spiers and Semple Sts, as they were the most affected, he said.
Mr Harrison acknowledged the new design might not fix all of the issues, but the council would monitor it and make adjustments, if necessary. A programme of work for other Kakanui streets would be included in future council plans.