Highway request for NZTA

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EXPENSIVE: Thompsons Track was closed earlier this year as roadworks were under way.
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The district council will ask NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi to designate two Mid Canterbury roads as highways.

Together totalling almost 100km, Thompsons Track and Arundel Rakaia Gorge Rd are connecting routes in the wider South Island.

If they were highways, NZTA would be responsible for their maintenance, rather than the district council.

The district council has spent more than $6 million on maintaining and rehabilitating the roads over the past five years.

The district council has sent a general inquiry to NZTA and is waiting to hear back on the best way to make a formal request.

Group manager infrastructure and open spaces Neil McCann said such requests would usually be part of an overall state highway review by NZTA.

Thompsons Track is 39.6 km. Over the past five years there has been $746,000 spent on maintenance, including repairs to flood damage, and $2.2 million spent on rehabilitation.

Arundel Rakaia Gorge Road is 57.1km. Over the past five years there has been $1.8m spent on maintenance and $2.9m spent on rehabilitation. The road was once State Highway 72 before being revoked in the early 1990s; the section from Rakaia Gorge to Waimarama Rd became SH77 while the remainder from Waimarama Rd to the Rangitata Gorge went under the jurisdiction of the district council.

‘‘Thompsons Track and Arundel Rakaia Gorge Rd are routes through Ashburton District that provide connectivity for the whole region; they are used by tourists and others travelling across the South Island,’’ McCann said.

Meanwhile, Ashburton mayor Neil Brown is welcoming a significant funding boost for local roads.

Brown told Local Democracy Reporting a record $9.07 billion for state highway pothole prevention and $1.9 billion for local road pothole prevention nationwide, announced last week by the government, was ‘‘certainly needed’’.