Speeding up the time it takes to get contractors onto roading work is one of the key successes of the Waikato District Alliance, winner of the Chorus EXCELLENCE Award for Best Practice in Infrastructure at the LGNZ EXCELLENCE Awards last night.
The Alliance is the country’s largest roading alliance, set up by Waikato District Council in conjunction with Downer NZ, and was created to deliver and improve asset management, renewal and management services to the community.
The Waikato District Alliance was announced as the winner at a gala dinner in Auckland attended by more than 650 delegates from local and central government, and stakeholders last night.
Now in their fourth year, the EXCELLENCE Awards recognise and celebrate the key leadership role that local government plays in communities around the country.
The Alliance allows a much quicker response than is possible from a traditional council-contractor relationship.
This was highlighted by the response to the collapse of a culvert on Otonga Valley Road in November 2016. In that incident the culvert suffered catastrophic failure early in the morning, leaving 28 residents on the no-exit road without access. Through the Alliance an engineer was able to visit the site that day and escalate the response.
Resources available to the Alliance enabled transportation to be provided to school students sitting national exams. A bridge deck and crane were taken to the site speedily and the road was returned to service within 20 hours of the collapse.
Response times averaged six days before the Alliance was set up, a day over the agreed performance target. Within three months, the average response time was reduced to less than two days.
LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says responding to extreme events is going to become even more important given natural hazards and increasing climate change impacts and the Alliance shows the Council is planning for its future.
“This is an excellent example of how councils can be prepared to respond to the risks posed by extreme events and hazards,” Mr Yule says.
Judges praised the Waikato District Alliance as a brilliant project that has already seen some very good results delivered.
“The speed of response has been impressive, they have embedded training and mentorship into the programme, and they have introduced performance benchmarks and are holding people to those benchmarks, which is what an alliance is supposed to do. The project could be replicated by other councils.”
Judges for the awards are former Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast, Chair of EQC Sir Maarten Wevers and The New Zealand Initiative’s Executive Director, Dr Oliver Hartwich.