Wed, Jan 18, 2023 9:42 AM

Meetings planned to discuss fate of Marlborough Sounds roads


Paula Hulburt

The public’s ideas on what should be done with Marlborough Sounds roads to make them safe and resilient to future flooding is being sought.

The council will hold community meetings in the Marlborough Sounds for input into the Marlborough Sounds Future Access Study. The study will look into four areas in the sounds, French Pass, Pelorus, Kenepuru and Port Underwood.

Mayor Nadine Taylor said input from the community was an important part of the study – which aimed to support the case for funding safe, resilient and affordable long-term access solutions in storm affected areas of the Sounds.

“The views of the community are crucial in helping the project team develop solutions to how we might get in and out of the Sounds in the future, and to underpin the business case for investment,” Taylor said.

Taylor said the study would identify a “series of potential options” for solving access issues in the Marlborough Sounds.

The meetings, which would start on January 31, will be held in French Pass, Rai Valley, Havelock, Picton, Portage and Waitaria Bay. A Zoom meeting will also be held for those that could not make it in person.

Marlborough mayor Nadine Taylor said the study will identify a “series of potential options” for solving access issues in the Marlborough Sounds. Photo: Anthony Phelps/Stuff.

The project team would present “evidence” at the meetings about what had been identified as “being needed”, the council said in a statement. This would inform the short and medium-term recovery work needed in the sounds.

Meanwhile, the council was asking the community for feedback on whether there is more evidence to make a stronger case for investment, additional ideas including potential evidence or alternative options to be included in the study and feedback about where improvements or interventions may be able to solve the problems identified.

At the end of the study, engineering consultant Stantec NZ would prepare a business case to support the funding plan for a transport system in the Marlborough Sounds. Alongside the council, Waka Kotahi would then consider the funding for the preferred options.

First discussed with the council in October last year, Stantec NZ will look into the long-term future of Marlborough’s roads, council chief executive Mark Wheeler said.

“It will look at the economic and community effects on different levels of service. Do we go further? Make it even more resilient? That's the sort of thing they will be addressing.

“Once all of that comes forward ... we look at alternative access proposals if we do have any.

“It's really significant for those communities, if there are changes to level of service, so they need to have a say.”

At the time, nearly 4000 faults had been identified in Marlborough’s roading network as a result of four days of heavy rain in August. That number was still growing, and was more than double that of the damage caused following heavy rain in July 2021.

More than 617km of roads in Marlborough have been fixed following heavy rain in August. Photo: MDC/Supplied.

By December, over 617km of road had been reopened for public access and 1000 faults had been repaired.

Waka Kotahi agreed in 2021 to give the council more than $80 million to help fix the region’s roads. Following the August deluge, in 2022, the council asked to use some of the money it had left over to help repair the more recent damage, which it considered a “priority”.

The upcoming Stantec study was a condition of reallocating the Waka Kotahi funding. It would look at the cost of repairs, climate change, land stability, safety, alternatives to road if necessary, community and economic impacts of access changes and housing land stability risks.

Public Meetings
January 31: French Pass Town Hall, 11am-1pm

February 1: The Millers Rest, Rai Valley, 10am-12pm

February 1: Havelock Town Hall, 3pm-5pm

February 2: Port Marlborough Pavilion, Picton, 2pm-4pm

February 3: The Portage Hotel, Kenepuru Sounds, 9am-11am

February 3: Waitaria Bay Hall, 2pm-4pm

February 8: Zoom, 5.30pm-7pm

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