$1.6m cost of damage to roads

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Waitaki District Council is facing an estimated roading bill of $1.6 million, including costs for bridge repairs, after the recent heavy rain. The damage is widespread throughout the Waitaki district, with several roads still closed and a bridge washed away in Dansey’s Pass.

Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton said the cost of the repair bill was “debilitating news”.

“Regardless of how we do it [repairs], it is going to have a financial impact which is unavoidable,” he said.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said there had been a “devastating” amount of damage. “There will be costs to local and national government, which means all branches of government will have to decide how to fund the costs,” she said.

“In the past few days, I have driven along parts of State Highway 1 and there is almost continuous damage to the road.”

Council roading contractors South Roads is hoping the two latest weather events do not turn into a “three-peat”. Oamaru site manager Russell den Dulk said his roading crew were “flat out” and they didn’t need another weather event. “Two weather events in a few days certainly puts the pressure on,” he said. “We are busy with heavy machinery re-forming and re-metalling roads.

“We have also employed five or six sub-contractors and are getting a good run in repairs.”

Mr den Dulk said residents should check the Waitaki District Council website regularly for the latest road information.

“We have reopened about half of the roads which have been affected by flood damage, including washouts, but caution is still advised because, although some of the roads have been reopened, they still require additional repair work.”

A number of areas in the Waitaki District catchment remain of concern, according to Mr den Dulk.

“We are still working on establishing a ford crossing for the washed-out bridge in Dansey’s Pass. Gards Rd is open but badly affected by flood damage. Snow clearing is still being done at Macraes Flat and there is an area of concern about the ice on the Macraes Rd to SH85,” he said. “There is also still an issue with the western abutment at the Kauru River bridge.”

Council roading manager Michael Voss said contractors would continue to liaise with key stakeholders, including Civil Defence and Fonterra, to prioritise which roads required work for accessibility.

“We appreciate people’s patience while we focus on the areas of highest need,” he said.

“Although our contractors are focusing on these priority areas, they are also responding to other requests made through phone calls or emails to the council. We also encourage people to contact the council directly if they come across any damaged roads.”

By Jacquie Webby