SH35 rubbish a disgrace
I was brought to tears recently on my first trip to Gisborne from the Coast after lockdown ended, to see all of the rubbish on our whenua since the roads were reopened.
I know the rubbish issue lies with the people who litter our highway, but it is up to the council I believe to look at a clean-up and prevention in the future.
There are some nice signs in NZ that could be displayed on SH35 as a reminder to the public not to litter. These could be added to existing speed signage posts easily, either side of each community and at Pouawa and Potaka ends (we don't want more signage posts).
Also, the previous roading contractors used to employ staff to clear the drains of rubbish — why is Downer not doing this?
As there has been no progress or response from previous emails to the council, I've now included The Gisborne Herald in the hope something is done about this.
Footnote response from Waka Kotahi senior network and journey manager Helen Harris:
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is responsible for rubbish collection on and alongside state highways in the region through our contractor, Downer.
We support our contractors to take necessary steps to ensure they can carry out all activities on the roading network safely. Rubbish collection comes under state highway maintenance — we have a certain amount of funding for maintenance and we must prioritise this. Our key focus is on safety issues such as fixing potholes and surface damage.
Our contractors carry out various maintenance works along the state highway every week and will clear any rubbish they come across at their worksites, but they don't generally make dedicated rubbish runs. They will target areas of highest need and nearest urban areas for rubbish collection within the resource available. However, due to the continued littering, contractors will be setting aside some time soon to make dedicated rubbish runs.
Rubbish clean-up diverts resource and funding from other important road maintenance activities. We do as much as we can within the resources available but if contractors picked up rubbish full time, then that would be funding and resource that wouldn't be spent fixing potholes, surface damage, signs or markings.
It is disappointing that people continue to illegally dump household and commercial rubbish on the sides of our state highways. Not only is it an eyesore, but it can be dangerous for road users and road workers, and the clean-up diverts resource from other essential road maintenance activity and can put the safety of our road workers at risk.
All of this is completely avoidable if people take responsibility and dispose of their rubbish appropriately. We are looking at additional signage along the state highway to remind people of this.