Whole of life - least cost approach to road maintenance best for NZ Inc.
Ruapehu Land Transport Manager Warren Furner said that he wasn’t surprised with national media taking an interest in increasing truck volumes putting pressure on the District’s rural road network and aging rural bridges.
“Increased economic activity around the District has seen the anticipated number of vehicle movements and especially the number of Heavy Commercial Vehicles (HCV) on our rural roads increase steadily over the last few years,” he said.
“This has been due to a number of reasons such as the start of the massive forestry harvest around the central North Island, an increase in larger HCV’s servicing farms, Council’s own aggregate trucks and more tourism vehicles accessing remote locations such as cycle ways, etc.”
“The impact that increased numbers of HCV's and High Productivity vehicles (50max) trucks would have on Ruapehu’s road network has been recognized for some time.”
“From 2015 it was estimated that 36,500 hectares of forestry plantation was going to start reaching maturity.”
“The harvest which is starting to get underway is anticipated to yield up to 24 million tonnes of timber which needs to be transported out of the District.”
“Logging trucks cause as much wear and tear to our rural road network during the harvesting period as dairying and sheep and beef farms do over a lot longer period of time.”
Mr. Furner added that this highlights the sort of pressures that economic growth has on rural communities especially where the infrastructure in some cases is nearing the end of its economic life.”
“Rural councils around NZ are needing to balance the requirement for infrastructure investment against affordability for local communities.”
“Ruapehu is of the view that we need to take off our ‘parochial hats’ and work collectively at finding national solutions for these national issues.”
“All stakeholders involved including councils, government, NZTA and trucking companies need to work together to find the best solution for NZ.”
“One suggestion is that NZTA could permit HCV’s to pay lower road user charges if they use specially designated transport routes that avoid network weak points such as old bridges and weak pavements.”
“Even though the designated route may be the longer way round the trucking companies are compensated through lower road user charges and NZTA and local ratepayers save from not needing to build a new bridge.”
“This is generally acknowledged as demand pricing to influence consumption.”
“For the benefit of NZ Inc. Ruapehu believes it is important that we take a ‘whole of life - least cost’ approach toward managing the road network.”