Fuseworks Media

Road sign damage expensive and dangerous – Hurunui District Council

Road and trail sign vandalism in the Hurunui District is hitting the pockets of rate payers.

In the past few months there has been a spate of damage to Give Way, Stop, Railway warning signs and speed limit signs on the district’s roads, as well as trail marker signs on the St James Cycle Trail.

Hurunui Police Sergeant Rob Irvine said that road signs are generally targeted by larger vehicles such as four-wheel-drives and big sedans like Commodores and Falcons, which are also used as ‘skid cars.’ Anecdotally he has heard the offenders are young people.

“It appears people are doing it for kicks and don’t realise the potential consequences of their actions if the signs cannot be read or seen, or have been removed.”

He said the public can report this behaviour to the police by dialling 111 or -555 if it is happening at the time or -105, with details of licence plate, model of vehicle, time and location.

Reports of sign damage by firearms has been seen and reported on the St James Cycle Trail, and on signs closer to Hanmer Springs.

“This is a whole different safety aspect,” said Sergeant Irvine.

He urged the use of the Rural Lookout app, an easy-to-use method for reporting crime which is instant and accurate.

“It gives us a good picture of where the crimes are happening because it has geo-location.”

Mark Inglis, St James Cycle Trail Manager, has been saddened by the bullets that have gone through the signs he and his trail network team has worked hard to design and install. The frustrating damage includes fences and gates where the offenders can gain access.

He listed Acheron Road, Tophouse Road, Edwards Road, and Mailings Pass as targeted areas, as mostly the damage is in drivable areas.

“The real worry is that people are parallel to the track when they’re firing generally at night, which is also illegal on public conservation land.”

He said a well-used trail is a safe trail, and urges recreational use to continue.

Inglis does attempt to repair the damaged signs as best he can for the graffiti-damaged and knocked over signs, but bullet holes are not so easy to fix.

“The cost is $70-$1000 to replace a sign, and that is cost to the very limited trail maintenance funds and it’s money that’s not being used to maintain the trails.”

Inglis urged people to contact him if they see damage in the St James Conservation area, through the St James Cycle Trail Facebook page, or contacting the Department of Conservation.

Hurunui District Council’s Operations Manager – Roading Charlie Hutt said it is the responsibility of councils to replace damaged signs, but it’s a cost they’d rather not have to spend from the rates they receive each year.

“We strive to provide the best services to our communities throughout the district, and it’s frustrating when we have to spend money on this as a result of people’s bad behaviour, instead of on key infrastructure and essential community needs.”


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