TODAY |

Choking dust from trucks has Northland residents demanding help

Some Northlanders are so fed up about the state of their local roads they've taken their plight to the Prime Minister.

Pipiwai residents say dust whipped up by logging trucks is making them sick, and driving dangerous. Source: 1 NEWS

The residents of Pipiwai, near Whangarei, say dust whipped up by logging trucks is making them sick as well as making driving dangerous.

Fifty trucks use the gravel road every day and residents want the well-worn logging route tarsealed.

"This dust will wear down people's health over a period of time," Pipiwai local Andrew Blake says.

"It's very dangerous because I once worked with Welsh coal miners in England interviewing them about chest disease, and this level of dust over a period of time reduced men to just wreckages of people."

Locals are also concerned about the risk to motorists on the narrow, winding roads

"The policeman who came here was absolutely appalled," says Mr Blake.

Trucks are supposed to keep to a 40 kilometre an hour speed limit, but locals told ONE News they very seldom stay below that.

There's plenty of dust at 40 km/hr but "they come through a lot faster than that", Mr Blake says.

Almost half of New Zealand's local roads are unpaved but Pipiwai is especially vulnerable because of the hot dry summer, the sheer number of trucks and its location on a schoolbus route. The dust gets into the bus and the children use their hoods to act as a mask.

Residents have long voiced their concerns to local government and now they've written to John Key about their plight while the council is also demanding a funding boost.

"We budgeted for $30,000 to do dust suppressant and we've spent a bit more than that and of course we're asking for more money through the New Zealand Transport Agency," Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai says.

The council believes $4.5 million is needed to seal the roads and let locals breathe easier.