We had an earthquake in Christchurch, you probably heard about it. If you hadn’t, your probably new around here but frankly it’s all we heard about for years.
But it ain’t over yet. Not by a long shot.
And while some have done nicely out of this massive seismic event with large cash payouts, new houses or ridiculously overpaid sinecure positions in nepotistic organisations, others of us have had to endure the long, drawn out process that has been euphemistically referred to as ‘The Rebuild’.
Obviously there are a lot of pieces of this broken city to put back together, mountains of paperwork to be processed and large tangles of local government bureaucracy to wade through before we close the book on this chapter of Christchurch’s history.
I get that, I really do. I try to be realistic about the inadequacies of government-run agencies and monopolistic private corporations that are left to run things there own way, unchecked. I can also freely admit that I don’t have any inside information about how SCIRT, Fulton Hogan, TFC or the CCC operate other than what I see as a longtime resident.
But by all accounts – and I know for a fact I’m not alone in thinking this – is that Christchurch roads, particularly through the CBD and eastern suburbs, are horrendous and have put a massive burden on road users.
I’m going to be as restrained as possible in this post, I’m by all accounts a polite person that doesn’t think ill of others, and tries to give anyone the benefit of the doubt, but the roading situation is an absolute nightmare and needs to be sorted to prevent good people turning into raging, cone-burning zombies.
For those of you new to the mess that is the Christchurch road network, let’s have a quick recap.
- Residents blocked out of their streets entirely
- The same streets dug up, patched, then dug up again
- The poor quality of roadworks with slumping and potholes forming soon after patching
- Key routes blocked or restricted excessively forcing exaggerated detours through unsuitable side streets – Woodham Rd which forces a lot of traffic down the narrow Durnanan St detour – a set of roadworks that has been extended for another eight weeks beyond the 6 months it has already taken
- Labyrinthine suburbs that would test the sanity of even the most forgiving driver (tried getting out of Aranui?)
- Excessive delays on roadworks (it has been over six years since the first quake struck and road crews are still ’emergency’ repairs to drainage networks)
- An absolutely ridiculous amount of road cones – also known as the conespiracy – are making our city look like a permanent construction site
- Even regular roadworks are drawn out to an excessive degree, inconveniencing motorists for months (e.g. Dyers Rd, Pages Rds – which is now closed to one-way traffic – again! – this time three whole months)
- The toll it has taken on other road users such as cyclists (have you tried cycling down Durham St lately?)
- The complete lack of external auditing of road repairs to ensure work is done as quickly as possible with minimal disruption to residents
- The lack of communication from roading companies explaining the need for all the concurrent work that creates a navigational nightmare for road users – even locals familiar with the area (they do have an FAQ page on the tfc.govt.nz website that is buried deep in a lot of words that don’t actually say anything)
- No explanation about why alternative methods weren’t employed for repairing drains – such as subterranean repair that was less disruptive
- The relentless nature of roadworks with no consideration to the psychological impact on residents and road users
I could go on but I think you get the point. If you don’t then I invite you to be my guest and drive around Christchurch for a day or so. I’m sure the roadwork rage won’t take long to well up inside, like a fiery pit of molten lava. Just don’t take it out on the roadworkers, it’s just their job and they don’t make the decisions – they just have to make sure those cones line up nice and straight so no one gets hurt.
By the way, this rant is purely for therapeutic reasons. It will accomplish no practical good aside from maybe helping another stressed Christchurch motorist take their mind off the hell they have to put up with every single day. It’s enough to make you just want to stay home until 2017 (which all roadworks are meant to be completed according to the tfc.govt.nz website, hmmm hands up who has confidence in that deadline being met?).
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed and powerless to deal with the constant onslaught of horrendous and seemingly pointless roadworks you deal with every day, the ones that turn a simple 10-minute 10km drive into a 25-minute 15km of detours, stops, turns, waits and pulling over to the side of the road because you’re not just horrendously lost but you’ve also missed your appointment and wonder if you should just give up and go home – if that’s you then take heart, because you’re not the only one.
How about when this is all over we just round up all those evil road cones (the ones that apparently meant progress but later turned out to be the hats of evil orange witches (who were all gathered in the offices of SCIRT, Downer and Fulton Hogan planning their next beat-up on the Christchurch motorist), we gather up all those blasted cones and “recycle” them? We could have our very own ‘burning cone’ festival. I think there’d be a few of us on board with that.
Until then, hang in there people of Christchurch – one day we’ll take back the streets.