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Fair Go: Raglan motorists wondering who's at fault after roadworks leave windscreens chipped, broken

For some time, people driving between Raglan and Hamilton have been dealing with chipped, cracked or completely broken windscreens.

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Over 200 residents are fuming after recent road works wreaked havoc on their cars, leaving them with windscreen chips and cracks. Source: Fair Go

Motorists say it's largely due to loose chip left behind after resealing works on State Highway 23. And they're mad.

What should have been routine roadworks has turned into multiple re-sweepings of loose chip, hundreds of annoyed motorists left out of pocket and windscreen repair shops run off their feet.

Alena Winter lives in Raglan and has been on a one-woman crusade over this patch of resealing, telling Fair Go "it's just not safe".

"After the roadworks are finished, after the temporary speed limit signs are removed ... there are just stones flying up everywhere, coming from oncoming vehicles.

"Like gunshots, there were just so, so many stones hitting the cars."

Both Alena and her partner's car windscreens were damaged in the space of a week near Greenslade Road, with the quote to fix it between $380 and $500.

She wrote to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency asking for compensation.

Her email was forwarded to Fulton Hogan - the company contracted to do the roadworks - who replied, saying it couldn't be held responsible for the behaviour of individual road users.

In other words, that was a big "no" to Alena's compensation claim.

After posting on the Raglan Community Facebook page, Ms Winter soon found out she wasn't alone. Collecting over 200 names and contact details, she put together a formal complaint to Waka Kotahi and gave them 10 business days to reply.

Exactly 10 days later, Waka Kotahi launched a six-week investigation into the resealing works on State Highway 23 between November 2020 and February this year.

That investigation took nearly 11 weeks.

In its findings, Waka Kotahi said "while the general process was adhered to, after the site was initially swept on January 15, we received a complaint regarding vehicle damage".

But because the response took a while to resolve, it said it "will be paying for any damage relating to the site at Greenslade Road between 16-25 January, when the site was swept a second time".

Great news for Alena and her partner, as their cars were both damaged within that time frame at that location. But she still wasn't completely satisfied.

"It felt like a consolation prize really... like did you choose this technicality to compensate me and a few people and hope I go away," she told Fair Go.

Waka Kotahi says it expects to compensate between 50 and 80 per cent of complainants relating to that stretch of highway. As for those affected outside of that chosen area, it's unclear.

Following the investigation, Fulton Hogan told Fair Go it was "sorry to hear of this situation and has worked closely with Waka Kotahi as our client to investigate the complaints and review the work carried out".

Fulton Hogan's statement didn't answer why there was loose chip left behind, or why the six-week investigation took nearly 11 weeks to complete. In fact it chose not to go into any details at all.

Alena hopes her story has now "set a precedent" for the future.

"Having these big companies slow down for a minute and think of the human element and think 'is this actually fair and is this reasonable, or can we take steps in future to avoid this happening again’.”