Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


Aging Bridges Highlight Infrastructure Funding Challenges In Support Of Rural Economy

L2R: Ivan Young, Mayor Don Cameron, Scott YoungMayor Don Cameron discusses options for replacing the Mangateitei Rd rail over-bridge and the associated issues with Waimarino growers Scott and Ivan Young of Kim Young and Sons.

Funding for rural bridges and the ability of small councils to pay for infrastructure renewal in support of primary producers, food security and the New Zealand economy came together at Ruapehu District Council’s meeting last week.

Following a decision to introduce new restrictions and compliance cameras on the Mangateitei Rd rail over-bridge between Ohakune and Rangataua local growers and contractors made an urgent appeal to Council to find a solution that wouldn’t force them to risk their safety and criminalise them just to operate their business.

Mayor Don Cameron said the issue highlighted the problem facing many rural councils where they are balancing the need to renew infrastructure critical to keeping the economy open against affordability.

“Mangateitei Rd was one of two wooden rail over-bridges, along with another on Ruapehu Rd, where we have had to introduce new restrictions following recent engineering reports that have increased our safety concerns for bridge users.

Technically these two bridges should have been replaced some time ago, however, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) funding criteria means we have so far been unable to unlock our 75% co-investment subsidy, despite the bridges now being functionally useless to the freight movement critical to our agricultural economy.

In the case of the Mangateitei Rd bridge this is a significant issue as it is the only option for the local growers, farmers and forestry who rely on it, and supply produce nationwide and for export, including 20% of New Zealand’s carrots and potatoes.

We have budgeted our $1.2m (25%) local share of the $4.8m replacement cost for the bridges in our latest 2021/31 Long Term Plan although they need to compete for regional transport funding in an environment where Waka Kotahi NZTA are cutting spending,” he said.

Mayor Cameron said this issue highlighted the problem that many rural councils like Ruapehu are facing who have a number of old bridges built in the early half of last century to open up agricultural production that are now in need of replacement.

“These old, aging, structures help support the rural backbone of New Zealand’s economy that feeds the nation and are critical to exports as we recover from COVID19.

In our case we have a significant stock of 341 aged bridges including large culverts, the majority of which were built around 100 years ago, across a 350km road network of which two thirds is unsealed.

Multiply this situation across rural New Zealand there is likely to be a large bow wave of aging bridge stock vital to the economy that small regional councils cannot afford to renew,” he said.

Mayor Cameron noted that Council is constrained in 100% debt funding the replacement of bridges such as Mangateitei as like many other councils with a small rating base we are already facing debt affordability challenges.

“As it stands, without further Government assistance, our debt level over the ten years of our new Long Term Plan is already projected to grow to an uncomfortable $100m driven mostly by the mandated water quality reforms.

Accelerating our bridge renewal program without the co-investment from Waka Kotahi NZTA at time when we are already committed to meeting legislated water quality upgrades would hasten affordability issues for Council.

Additionally, we look at our agriculture and productivity as a whole across the road network rather than looking at individual roads and bridges and how much produce comes off each one.

A change to this later approach would mean there are very likely some roads and bridges that we would never be prioritised for replacement leaving some remote farms and communities severely disadvantaged.

We are currently in active discussions with Waka Kotahi NZTA over funding and are hopeful that due to the threat that restrictions on the Mangateitei Rd rail over-bridge have to disrupt the supply of produce nationwide it will be seen as a special case and treated with urgency,” he said.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On What Triggered The Carnage In Gaza

At last count, 195 Palestinians have reportedly died in the latest round of violence, 55 of them children. Roughly ten times that number have been wounded, and thousands made homeless. On the Israeli side, 8 people have died from rockets fired from Gaza. The imbalance in casualties reflects the vast gap in weaponry between the two sides. The Israelis are carrying out air strikes with impunity on densely populated civilian neighbourhoods... More>>


Budget 2021: Boosts Carbon Neutral Government Commitment

· Budget 2021 delivers $67.4 million to support the transition to a carbon neutral public sector by 2025 · State Sector Decarbonisation Fund receives significant boost to support more schools, hospitals and other government organisations to replace ... More>>

Government: To Rev Up Reductions In Transport Emissions

The Government is calling for feedback on a range of potential policies to eliminate emissions in the transport sector. Transport Minister Michael Wood today released Hīkina te Kohupara – Kia mauri ora ai te iwi - Transport Emissions: Pathways to ... More>>

KiwiSaver: Default Provider Scheme Improvements Slash Fees, Boosts Savings

Hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders will be significantly better off in retirement following changes to the default KiwiSaver scheme, Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark said today. More>>


Child Poverty: Reports Highlight Need For Ongoing Action

The Government has released the first Annual Report for the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy and the second Child Poverty Related Indicators (CPRI) Report, both of which highlight improvements in the lives of children as a result of actions of the Government, ... More>>


PM: Statement On The Speaker And Annual Review Debate

“The serious issue of alleged sexual assault and harassment at Parliament was poorly managed and inappropriately politicised last night. The tone of the debate did not reflect well on Parliament as a whole,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. ... More>>

Parliament: Mallard Fails To Give Taxpayers A Straight Answer

Trevor Mallard has confirmed he is unfit to be Parliament’s Speaker by failing to answer several important questions relating to the false rape accusation saga that cost taxpayers more than $330,000, Shadow Leader of the House Chris Bishop says. ... More>>

Local Government: Independent Review To Explore Future

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta says an independent review of local government will explore how councils can maintain and improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders in the communities they serve long into the future. More>>





InfoPages News Channels