Culvert collapse was just waiting to happen – Otonga Valley Rd resident

Clive Hobson has been warning Waikato District Council all year that logging trucks were tearing up Otonga Valley Rd.

On Monday night, a culvert finally collapsed, and the council closed off the road to all traffic.

Clive, who lives in Otonga Valley Rd near the collapsed piece of road, said he had warned the council that a slump that had formed over the culvert was “a major”, and “they said they would monitor the situation”.

“So much for their monitoring, the whole thing collapsed.”

Clive said a neighbour discovered it at about 9pm on Monday as he was driving – a 1-metre-high wall rose up in front of him.

“When I went down and saw it … it just reminded me of the pictures on the news of the earthquake in the South Island, but this is caused by logging trucks.

“We did a ring around and alerted the neighbours that they wouldn’t be able to get out in the morning.”

Clive said about 21 families lived in Otonga Valley Rd. “One family has five children, one has four, you are looking at possibly 100 people.”

Many residents arranged for rides on the other side and the council stationed a vehicle and driver at the end of the road for emergency use.

Clive said about six to eight weeks ago a depression had formed in the road running over the culvert.

“They put a load of hot mix into it but the depression kept forming.

“So there is something substantial going on underneath.”

Clive said logging trucks had moved into the area at the beginning of the year and “have been tearing up the road”. He said he had rung the logging company about four times expressing concern at the speeds the trucks were going, and that the road wasn’t designed for such heavy loads.

“I’ve told council (about road damage) and they say it’s only minor, they will patch it up when they are in the area.

“I’ve told them they should get out of their air-conditioned offices at some stage.

“If that happened in Auckland, if they even made a scratch in the road they would get a fine.

“Council doesn’t do a thing. They need to pay for the damage they are causing.

“We’ve had washouts and what not in the valley here to right up to the tarseal – 5m drops and 2m drops.”

Clive had spoken to a logging truck driver on the day of the culvert collapse and had asked when they would be out.

“They were supposed to have been out in October. He said hopefully they would be gone by today …  they left their parting gift, yes.”

Waikato District Alliance staff put in a temporary bridge on Tuesday evening.

Inger Vos