Bluff Highway in 'bad' state: Invercargill councillor

3:13 pm on 29 March 2024
Bluff Highway (State Highway 1) is the only road in and out of the southern port town of the same name.

Bluff Highway (State Highway 1) is the only road in and out of the southern port town of the same name. Photo: LDR / Matthew Rosenberg

The condition of a main arterial route out of Invercargill has been described as "embarrassing" by a city councillor who wants action.

Ian Pottinger took aim at Bluff Highway (State Highway 1) during an Invercargill City Council meeting this week where a response to the government's draft policy statement on transport was discussed.

The council has until 2 April to submit on the plan, which it said prioritised the maintenance of state highways and local roads.

Following a recent trip south of the city, Pottinger believed the council should push hard on getting better outcomes for that stretch of road.

"I really couldn't believe NZTA (Waka Kotahi) could let it get that bad.

"I think we've got to be talking to our own local MP. We've got to be going stronger than a submission.

"I could not believe how bad that road is, and what it has to deliver."

The highway is the only route between Invercargill and Bluff, and provides a key link for large stakeholder South Port.

Deputy Mayor Tom Campbell pointed to the amount of money going through Bluff as reason enough for the council to strengthen its letter to the government.

"One of the interesting things is the dollar value of exports through Bluff has doubled in the last 10 years," he said, noting that inflation needed to be factored in.

"About $2.4 billion of goods go throughout Bluff every year."

In its submission to the government, the council said it supported the call of many South Island mayors for State Highway 1 to be recognised as a road of national significance.

It made a special request for the section between Invercargill and Bluff to be recognised in view of its safety rating and importance as the only route in and out of Bluff.

The community was "effectively isolated" whenever the road was closed due to an accident, and low-lying areas were at risk of climate change, the letter said.

"It is essential that further investment is made into this area in order to achieve economic, resilience and safety outcomes," it read.

Over the past five years, there had been nine serious crashes on the section of Bluff Highway beginning at Elles Road in Invercargill - three of which were fatal.

Twenty percent of traffic on the road was from heavy vehicles.

Councillors ultimately resolved for staff to rework the letter - signed by Campbell - to strengthen the message they were trying to send.

- LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.

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