© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2019

City roads to keep deteriorating - city council report

Ursula Keay
road condition ursula
An example of a Christchurch road in poor condition. Ursula Keay

By 2029, 17 percent of the city's roads will be in such a bad condition that they're expected to fail within a year or two.

The Christchurch City Council's Long Term Plan shows that in 2010, 9 percent of the city's roads were in 'Grade 5' condition.

By 2029 it is estimated 17 percent of the roads will be Grade 5, the plan shows. 

Grade 5 means a road is in a "very bad condition" and "expected to fail within one to two years".

Roads fail when they break up, water gets in, and the foundations start eroding. This means that not only will cars be damaged; it will cost the council more in the long term as the roads will have to be re-constructed rather than re-sealed. 

The council has elected to reseal just 2 percent of the city's roads meaning it would take about 50 years to reseal everything, rather than the recommended seven years for high traffic roads and up to 20 years for low traffic roads.

The council has declared rates increases of 5 percent a year, but that money is mainly being used to repair water pipes and sewerage.  

This comes in an election year where candidates are claiming the city will have no rates increases if they are elected to office. 

Local election candidate Darryll Park said he would not be putting rates up if he was elected and would cut $100 million from the council budget.

But Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said work was still needed following the quakes and Park didn't 'have a clue' how he would cut costs. 

“If anyone needs to open the books it’s Darryll Park. Show us exactly what the city has to give up to achieve his promises, and then show us how he’s going to persuade the other democratically elected councillors, because the mayor only has one vote, not executive powers”. 

Veteran former city councilor and former chairperson of the finance committee David Close said the graphs were 'sobering' and candidates needed to read the document before making wild promises. 

Chairperson of the Infrastructure Committee Pauline Cotter similarly said it is 'pie in the sky' to say there will be no rates increases and if it happened, it could only be temporary as it would result in a sudden 'unpalatable' increase in future.

''It's not right. You've got to keep at least incrementally increasing them at the rate of inflation''.

Ms Cotter said it would not be possible to raise the reseal rate from 2% because there was not enough money in the budget and other things also needed to be done for the city.

''You've got to keep the city growing at the same time as doing your roading''. She said the ultimate question was 'where do you find that balance?'

Ms Cotter says the Christchurch City Council have recently agreed to inject a further forty million dollars into roading from the Capital Acceleration Fund which should start to see results by next year. 

And additionally, they were hoping for more money to be allocated in the New Zealand Land Transport Plan from New Zealand Transport Agency.

In a further statement from Planning and Delivery Transport Manager at the Christchurch City Council Lynette Ellis, it is a 'slow recovery' and it will take the council 'the next 10 years to get back on par with the rest of the country'. 

Current finance committee chairperson Raf Manji and deputy chairperson Andrew Turner were unavailable for comment.