Summer roadworks ahead
If you've been thinking local Hauraki Plains roads look a bit like a split sausage left too long on the barbie, you'd be right.
That's because the recent summer drought dried out the soil the roads are built on causing widespread damage. Hauraki Plains roads are built on unique, moisture sensitive soils made up of organics, marine muds and clays. Due to the record-breaking low rainfall, these moisture sensitive soils dried out and shrunk causing damage such as cracking, slumping, rutting, and settling of the road surface. About 44 per cent (230km) of the roads in our district are built on these soils, largely on the Hauraki Plains. The drought didn’t affect roads in other areas of the District as markedly because they are built on different soils.
We've fixed the worst bits for safety's safe
Most roads on the Plains were damaged to some extent, so we assessed the worst damaged sections that presented a safety threat and fixed those immediately. We’ve waited to repair other local roads on the Plains until after winter 2020 to allow ground moisture levels to ‘normalise’ as much as possible.
It'll take more than 'moisturiser' to iron out the wrinkles
It’s going to cost about $2.8 million to repair all the drought related damage. This is on top of our usual repairs. Luckily, we have a co-funding agreement with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, who will pay for most of the work through their Emergency Works fund. The work will take place over two construction seasons (i.e. over a two-year period) as a Second Coat seal, which provides a thick durable surfacing layer, can only be applied after the First Coat has received some trafficking, ideally within a year of the initial repairs. Council’s share of about $787K will be spread across the 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years.
Please take extra care on Plains’ roads this summer
Some surfaces will feel uneven, so keep both hands on your steering so you are prepared for any unexpected movement from the wheels of the car or bike. We'll have crews out and about fixing the roads right across the Plains this summer, so please be prepared to slow down or stop. You'll also need to expect the unexpected on rural roads – tractors, ducks, pheasants, hares and even livestock can take you by surprise.
Thanks for your patience and understanding as we complete this work
If you'd like to know more, view our FAQs - Impact of the 2019/2020 summer drought on roads on the Hauraki Plains
Before and after photos
First photo: Close up of the drought damage on Kaihere Road - about 75 000 square metres, or up to 25km, of repairs need to be completed on Plains roads. Some damage is full width and some is only on half of the road.
Second photo: A road that has already been repaired.