Curbing mistake makes $40K cost for ratepayers

Makayla Wallace-Tidd and partner Josh Nelson regained use of their driveway this week after having limited access through much of the Birchwood Lane extension project. The already-frustrating situation was delayed further when a $40,000 mistake caused the new curbing to be ripped up and re-done.

Residents in Birchwood Lane are up in arms about a curbing mistake which will cost Tamahere ratepayers an additional $40,000 to seal and extend the street.

$350,000 was set aside for the project which involves the construction of 340m of new road with a shared footpath.

Construction began in April, and was due to be completed last month. But in the last week of June, when the project was still not completed, construction staff from Waikato District Alliance (Waikato District Council’s roading arm) realised they’d made a mistake – the freshly laid concrete kerb was put in at the wrong height, forcing the nearly 700m strip to be ripped up and redone to the tune of around $40,000. It boosted the total project cost by around 11 per cent to $390,000.

“Somebody has to be held accountable, it’s shocking,” a nearby resident Browyn Page said. “It’s really embarrassing, and why should we pay for that!?”

The re-do came as a surprise to residents who had watched the curbing go up just days before.

“The road works have been one thing after another,” said Makayla Wallace-Tidd, who has been unable to access her driveway during the footpath construction. “Completion was supposed to be the end of June, but here we are one week into July and it’s not looking good.”

Makayla said the curbing mistake had added to what was already a difficult situation. Through most of the project she and partner Josh Nelson have had limited or no access to their driveway, sometimes resorting to a muddy tread across a wet paddock in the morning to access their car, or carefully navigating around cones and over the curb to park their car outside their home.

“They could have kept us up to date when our driveway was blocked,” she said. “Anything so we didn’t have to drive on the rocky road, then reverse through cones to then mount a kerb and drive on the footpath.”

It was acceptable for the greater good of the street, she thought, but horror set in when the footpath which had caused their access problem was ripped up and redone all over again.

“They seem to keep operating as if there aren’t any residents affected. Just because we might be one of the only driveways/homes affected doesn’t mean we don’t matter. It has delayed everything so much more and meant that we have been stuck walking to our cars in torrential rain.”

The pair have lived on the street for seven months, and admit the project will be worth it in the end, particularly to provide a smooth footpath for children riding their bikes to Tamahere School. “Our road was gravel before so it will be nice to have a finished road, but the process has been more stressful and frustrating than anything.”

A council spokesperson confirmed the $40,000 curbing mistake, admitting that the cost would have to be absorbed by council. They said the job was expected to be completed by the end of July, with foundation work beginning this week on the road pavement.

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