Council is tasked with managing nearly 5000km of roads throughout Southland. The roading network that Council manages comprises all of the roads, streets and bridges in the district, except the State Highways which are owned and managed by the New Zealand Transport Authority and National Park roads which are owned and managed by the Department of Conservation. Footpaths are also covered and these are all owned and managed by the Council and Community Boards.
Southland District is facing some hard decisions about the future of parts of its roading network because of funding constraints. Government funding is being tightened and Council is only too aware of the financial burden some of the district's ratepayers are under.
Council has worked hard in the past few years to come up with innovative ways of saving money and is continually trying to do more with less, a network plan looking at the economics, social benefits and safety of our roads has been created.
Our roads were built in a time of prosperity in the south about 50 years ago and are coming to the end of their life. The cost of repairing roads has increased dramatically in the past few years and we need to spend $25 million a year to maintain and rebuild our roads at the moment. This cost is going to grow rapidly in the next 10 years and beyond that it only gets worse. The New Zealand Transport Authority has also signalled there will be no extra money from Government.
Public meetings have been held throughout the district to talk about the problem and discuss possible solutions. Thank you to those who attended the meetings and provided feedback. Common themes around the gravel roads and roading being our core business came out of this.
Some of the options discussed included:
The next step is to go through and analyse all the information collected from these meetings. This has been the first step in what is going to be a long journey and we will continue to inform and talk to ratepayers and residents.