Opinion Piece – Road Sealing

Unsealed roadAt the heart of road sealing is the issue of safety.

Unsealed roads have been a contributing factor in the deaths of five people in the past five years according to New Zealand Police records. Also there have been 19 serious injuries and 82 minor injuries in the same period.

The Ministry of Transport calculates the social cost per fatality is $3.85 million. The cost per serious injury at $409,000 and per minor injury at $21,700. That equates to approximately $6 million a year of additional taxpayer expenditure.

The direct economic costs to ratepayers of unsealed roads, including damage to vehicles, tyres and health related costs totals a staggering $23 million per year.

Add these health and economic costs to the accident related costs. Then add in our rates of $64 million and it’s nearing $100 million a year of our money, against Council’s plan to spend just $1 million back into preventative road sealing.

Discussions with the CEO’s of both our neighbouring Council’s corroborate the average sealing cost of $406,000 per kilometre, depending on terrain.

Auckland Transport representatives confirm the maintenance costs for unsealed and sealed roads are comparable. We just need the money to get them sealed.

I disagree with Penny Webster’s desire to investigate how make the $1 million stretch further. There’s simply not enough money being allocated to road sealing. Protecting our lives and health must be priority.

It is time to deal the problem now because road sealing costs just keep going up.