Why potholes are repeatedly patched up rather than fixed

3:43 pm on 1 November 2023
The Ashburton District has a sealed network of 1500 kilometres and is only able to afford to rehabilitate around 8-to-10 kilometres each year.

The Ashburton District has a sealed network of 1500km and is only able to afford to rehabilitate around 8km to 10km each year. Photo: LDR / Supplied

A roading expert has explained why Ashburton district's potholes are repeatedly patched up rather than properly fixed.

It all comes down to funding.

During a recent meeting, Councillor Lynette Lovett questioned why the process was to repeatedly patch up potholes rather than just fix the section of road.

Lovett asked if any analysis was done on the cost of repeat pothole patches.

"Is it cheaper to do the darn things properly and clear them, than coming back each week and putting up jolly signs and putting black stuff in the potholes?

"It must balance out somewhere along the line for coming out and filling them all the time to actually digging it up and fixing it properly."

Roading manager Mark Chamberlain said it comes down to funding.

"Ideally, if there is a bit of pavement getting potholes in it and needs to be dug out, then we would be able to just go ahead and dig out it out and do the repair.

"It's to do with funding we have got available.

"Some of them have to keep getting patched to try and hold them until we have that money available."

It had been noted before that the contractor is only paid for the first pothole patch repair. The contract is for $6000 per year, and any subsequent repatching is at their own expense.

The road funding conversation may have given many in the room déjà vu.

Potholes are the perennial number one complaint the council receives.

Funding, and specifically the lack of it, has been a regular discussion topic around the table, making it a big gripe for council and ratepayers.

Mayor Neil Brown reminded councillors the district has a sealed network of 1500 kilometres in the district.

"Last year we replaced 8 to 10 kilometres of new road.

"Do the equation and it's 150 years to go around and renew all our roads."

The new roads are built to last 25 years and "even if they last 40 years we need to be doing 37km a year, but we are doing 8 to 10km", he said.

"Money is the problem and we are going backwards."

In the lead-up to the election, National announced it would establish a Pothole Repair Fund.

The pledge was to establish a $500 million fund for state highway and local roading repairs, set a new directive to Waka Kotahi to double the current rate of roading renewals and halve the standard response rate for pothole repair from 48 to 24 hours.

Incoming Rangitata MP James Meager said the funding would be included in the new government's revised draft government policy statement that is in its 100-Day Action Plan.

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