Pothole Fund idea welcomed by transport groups, unlucky motorists

Pothole riddled road in Northland

A pothole-riddled road in Northland.
Photo: Facebook/Northland Potholes

Pothole pain is being felt up and down the country, particularly in Northland.

The AA says some residents are choosing not to see family or are taking expensive flights out of Whangārei to avoid bad patches of road.

National is promising to create a Pothole Repair Fund worth $500 million to give roads and state highways a makeover.

It would also halve the standard response rate for pothole repair to 24 hours and introduce a new directive to Waka Kotahi to double the current rate of roading renewals.

Devlin Maras and his wife Danielle were left with an unusable car in May after they hit a pothole along State Highway 10, just out of Kerikeri. They were yet to hear back from any agencies about their repair bill.

National Party transport spokesperson Simeon Brown and party leader Christopher Luxon have made a pledge for a Pothole Repair Fund.

National Party transport spokesperson Simeon Brown and party leader Christopher Luxon have made a pledge for a Pothole Repair Fund.
Photo: RNZ / Delphine Herbert

Maras said while the damage along that stretch of road has been repaired, he feared for the safety of other families.

“It just worries me, I mean, as a father and a human being, you just don’t want to hear about situations like that. Especially if they could have ended up much worse.”

He believed the repairs carried out were not a long-term solution.

“A lot of our road repairs, they’re like Band-Aids, rather than repairing the roads properly. You know, a few days later that pothole will be washed out again. Unfortunately there’s going to be people who are going to be victims of those potholes because the job was not done properly.”

The Automobile Association Northland District Council was happy road repairs are being considered in National’s plan. Chairperson Tracey Rissetto said while it was a positive idea, locals were still having to make hard decisions.

”It’s causing people to reconsider whether they are going to visit family, or whether they are going to go down to Auckland and fly out of Auckland. Instead, some of them are considering taking expensive flights out of Whangārei.”

Transporting New Zealand chief executive Dom Kalasih said he had reports, including from members, about vehicles being damaged due to the potholes across the country.

Road Transport Forum chief executive Nick Leggett

Infrastructure New Zealand chief executive Nick Leggett.
Photo: RNZ/ Tom Kitchin

”Cars only got four tyres and wheels on it, so if you get a blow out on one of those, not only is that a significant safety risk, but then that has definitely had an impact on operations because staff can’t get where they need to go.”

Figures from Waka Kotahi show more than 211,747 potholes have been repaired since 2018 – 13,735 in Northland alone. The figures included cases where the same pothole or a pothole in the same location had been fixed more than once.

Infrastructure New Zealand said the industry had been calling for a roadmap to ensure there were enough hands to do the jobs if the plan was to go ahead. Chief executive Nick Leggett said it would provide certainty.

“We need a guaranteed pipeline of work, if we are going to get people to do the work. What this announcement gives the industry is some certainty around planning over the coming years for the growing workforce to be able to cope with that.”

Leggett said $500m over three years was a good place to start.

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