The engineering services committee meeting was held on 15 May 2014.
The agenda included the following topics: (1) sewerage operation and management, (2) driver feedback signs, (3) bridge replacement, and (4) the engineering manager’s report. A confidential session was held to consider a solid waste services proposal.
Unfortunately the report from the Nelson Regional Sewerage Business Unit (NRSBU) was not tabled and instead deferred to the next meeting due to NRSBU staff not being able to present the report to council. Nevertheless the agenda (pp 5 to 30) does contain some useful information on TDC’s sewerage operation that the people from the NRSBU were going to talk too. I look forward to NRSBU’s future presentation.
Driver feedback signs
Speed issues have been a major concern for schools and residents in the region. As part of councils efforts to address the issue, council has decided to purchase three “driver feedback signs” (that are solar powered) at a total cost of $40,000. These are signs that inform the driver of their approaching speed. Studies conducted both in the UK and USA have found radar speed signs to effectively slow traffic down (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radar_speed_sign). Six locations have been identified.
A number of trucking businesses are wanting to use the larger High Productivity Motor Vehicle (HPMV) capable trucks and trailers. These new trucks are longer and have more carrying capacity (roughly 20% more) than other trucks. Theoretically, their use should see a reduction in the number of truck trips on our roads and possibly improved safety. Their impact on the roads is also no greater than existing trucks due to their axel configuration. This results in the load weight of the truck being evenly distributed, so that there is no greater impact on road wear and tear than from other trucks. However, narrow bridges pose a problem to cross. Tasman has a number of narrow bridges.
After consultation with the industry, staff identified that the most efficient route for HPMV’s to the rest of the south island was along the Motueka Valley Highway which would involve only one narrow bridge replacement. A map of the route in the agenda (p 47). The estimated cost of the bridge work was $700,000 and would only proceed if it received a New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) subsidy of 59%. An effective cost to ratepayers of $287,000. The project was also expected to be completed within the existing approved 2013-14 bridge renewal budget. On this basis, council approved the expenditure.
The engineering manager’s report provided an update of the engineering departments activities, reorganisation, and programme delivery schedule.
Of particular interest for me was the reported savings from the departments reorganisation, although the manager stressed that this could deviate in future quarters. The 2013 third quarter (Q3) showed a total saving of $1,384,000 against plan, compared to the forecast saving of $710,000 for the same period. A positive variance of $674,000. This was a good result but whether this trend continues as the departments activities are reduced (as council strive to make savings from unnecessary capital expenditure) will be interesting to monitor.
Subsidised road renewals appear to be coming in under forecasted budgets of just over $6 million. A possible saving of $100,000-200,000. Although this saving is likely to be taken up by a shortfall of $100,000 in river maintenance activities. River work in the Buller catchment is underway with current costs appearing to be tracking below planned expenditure. Whether this is a timing issue or a trend will be interesting to watch.
Seawater inundation at the Motueka waste water plant has brought forward the decommissioning of one of the wetland ponds. The easter storm raised the risk of waste water overflows in Golden Bay. However, these were avoided due to the efforts of the contractor who tankard the effluent from site to site.
Stormwater networks held up well in March and April. Regular pre-storm inspections and the removal of debris are now being undertaken prior to forecasted heavy rain events. Areas of high risk continue to have sandbags stationed nearby.
The councils resource consent for landfill operations expires in September 2015 and work has begun to ensure consents are in place going forward.
The construction of reservoir and supply pipelines above Champion Road to increase supply for new Richmond east subdivisions are over budget due to road works and land purchases. The upgrade to Champion Road storm water system (to mitigate flooding to a Q100 event) is behind schedule due to resource consenting issues. Other projects behind schedule include: (1) the regions growth model report (now scheduled for June), (2) the regions parking management strategy report (now after May), and (3) the hydraulic modelling of Richmond. Given the size and number of other projects the engineering department is undertaking, some lag might be expected. I certainly do not have any concerns at this point in time.
Reader’s interested in the progress of other engineering projects should refer to the agenda (pp 62 to 70).
Agenda and minutes
The agenda and minutes for this meeting are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/engineering-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EngineeringServicesCommittee/2014/2014-05-15.