Low volume road in hill country

The Special Interest Group on Low Volume Roads is seeking feedback on draft Guidelines for equitable funding of pavement maintenance for low volume roads. The consultation period runs from 19 June to 14 July 2017.  Download Consultation Draft.  See Key points for consultation.  Feedback should be returned to the working group through Wayne Newman at wayne@cresmere.co.nz

The proposed Guidelines provide a method for councils to allocate to rating units the costs of pavement maintenance made necessary by heavy vehicle traffic gerated by land uses on those units.  The method allows an equitable allocation of costs between differing land uses.

The draft Guidelines result from research on processes currently used to identify cost impacts of forest harvesting, dairy conversions, quarrying and other intensive heavy vehicle activity on low volume roads. This identified models for best practice and led to development of a process that is robust and transparent for national use to identify the life-cycle cost impacts of heavy vehicle activities on low volume roads. 

The draft Guidelines propose a best practice response to the future impacts of heavy vehicle activities on the low volume roads network that will allow appropriate planning of investment by both road controlling authorities and primary sector investors, and provide all parties with greater certainty and consistency.

To support the preparation of Guidelines, the SIG-LVR commissioned expert studies on these impacts from John de Pont (TERNZ) The impact of land use on pavement wear and Graham Salt (GeoSolve) The impact of heavy vehicle traffic on road pavements (Appendix A) (Appendix B), and expert assessment of the options available for funding these impacts from Julian Williams and Natalia Fareti (BERL) Equitable funding of pavement maintence for low volume roads. For other research reports and references consulted by the working group, go to the list of Research reports and relevant references.

Background to SIG-LVR

Calls for guidance on issues peculiar to low volume roads and relating to the effects of heavy vehicles on such roads have been recognised as requiring a special interest group dealing with these issues.  In particular, there is a recognised need for a consistent best practice response to accelerated pavement consumption from changes in use of low volume roads.  In addition, an increasing awareness of the wider health costs associated with particulate pollution has led to recognition that road controlling authorities need to ensure that they are responding to road dust from unsealed roads with appropriate solutions.

The group has liaised with key sector representative groups with an interest in the impact of intensive heavy vehicle activities on low volume road pavements.  A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with the NZ Forest Owners Association and worked with DCANZ and AQA.   Go to group meetings page.

While work on developing the guidelines continued, the group also began addressing other issues particularly relevant to low volume roads, including the effect of dust (and sub-PM10 particles in particular) on road-side communities.  Go to dust page.

The group prepared a submission on behalf of the RCA Forum on the changes proposed in the review of the VDAM Rules.  See submission.  A further submission was made on behalf of the RCA Forum for the consultation on the Draft Land Transport Rule: VDAM.  See RCA Forum submission on Draft VDAM Rule.  This submission appended a technical assessment of the pavement damage done specifically by wide single tyres.  See Appendix.

Forestry harvest concerns

Ruapehu, Wairoa, Wanganui and Far North District Councils all initiated investigations into policy development for the effects of forest harvest on roads independently and a consistent approach nationally was recognised as desirable for planning investment in the forestry and rural sectors.  The Forest Owners’ Group executive, Federated Farmers, and the Road Transport Association have all agreed that a consistent funding policy approach across transport networks is desirable.  Other North Island authorities have raised related issues relating to heavy vehicles on low volume roads.

Although significant research has been done on forest harvesting effects on rural roads and the best practice response, there is clearly a need to have robust and transparent processes to quantify the cost of these effects, as well as agreed equitable mechanisms to respond to this cost and guidelines developed that allow for a nationally consistent application of funding mechanisms to provide greater certainty in investment decisions for both road controlling authorities and forestry investors.  Additional research is needed to ascertain whether similar mechanisms might be put in place for other sources of heavy vehicle impacts on low volume roads, such as dairy conversions or quarrying, or whether available mechanisms are sufficient.

Nationally consistent Funding Policy advice for affected local roads is complementary to the philosophy of the One Network Road Classification system and Customer Levels of Service initiative. A working group was agreed to be the best means to address this by identifying the scope of the problem and developing such guidelines and a workshop of interested local authority road asset managers was convened on 8 August 2014.  From this a proposal was put to the Forum meeting that a working group be established.  

Working group membership

The Forum endorsed the new working group.  The goal of the Working Group was to identify a robust and transparent process to quantify the life cycle cost impact of heavy vehicles on low volume roads, determine an equitable mechanism to address this cost impact and develop national guidelines on best practice for practitioners to plan investment to meet the future cost of heavy vehicle impacts on low volume roads.  Read terms of reference.

The working group has comprised road controlling authorities with a direct interest in the impact of heavy vehicle activities on low volume roads:

  • Wairoa District Council -  Jamie Cox (convenor)
  • Whanganui District Council - Rui Leitao
  • Ruapehu District Council - Warren Furner
  • Waikato District Council - Wayne Furlong
  • Whakatane District Council - Martin Taylor
  • Whangarei District Council - Jeff Devine
  • Kaipara District Council - Henri van Zyl, Garry McGraw
  • South Taranaki District Council - Vincent Lim, Carolyn Copeland
  • Southland District Council - Joe Bourque
  • Far North District Council - Wil Pille and Cr Ann Court
  • Waitaki District Council - Michael Voss
  • Marlborough Roads - Steve Murrin
  • Auckland Transport - Peter Scott
  • NZ Transport Agency - Murray Gimblett

These RCA representatives were joined by key stakeholder representatives:

  • NZ Forest Owners Association - David Rhodes, Glen Mackie, Grant Rutledge and Chris Bailey
  • Dairy Companies Association of NZ -Philippa Fourie (Fonterra)
  • Aggregate and Quarry Association of NZ - Mike Chilton

The Research and Guidelines Steering Group provides administrative support through Wayne Newman.