At the 2016 LGNZ EXCELLENCE Awards
Southland District Council has the second largest roading network in the country and needed an innovative solution to address the pressures being put upon it and target maintenance which is most needed.
This was the driving need behind the programme, Changing Direction, The Way Forward for Southland’s Roads.
Southland has the largest rural network in New Zealand, consisting of about 5000 kilometres of roads and 1000 bridges. About 3000 kilometres of the network are gravel while the rest are sealed. This network is facing pressure from increased economic activity, particularly from the dairy industry, with increasing volumes of heavy vehicle movements.
In the face of a rapidly-changing financial environment, the council has had to look for innovative ways, including partnerships, to balance making the most effective investment decisions with meeting the expectations of its communities.
The council worked with one of New Zealand’s largest businesses, Fonterra, to find out where maintenance of the region’s road network was needed and introduced the multi-component project to gain deeper insights into the pressures placed on its roads. This has enabled it to develop new ways of ensuring resources are targeted to the areas of greatest need and economic benefit so it can develop a fit-for-purpose network.
The project uses new technology, resource allocation tools and procurement methods to make smart decisions on managing the district’s roads.
It focuses on attaining better economic outcomes for ratepayers through smarter spending decisions, as well as better environmental outcomes by optimising levels of service to ensure safer journeys for Southland’s road users.
Judges described it as an “innovative approach to improving the management of roading infrastructure – showing positive results”.
This article was first published in the August 2016 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.