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Diamond Jubilee of the Ohinemuri County 1885 - 1945

Mr. Marshall's Ten Year Plan

With the huge growth of motor traffic and the ever-increasing demand for more and better roads, there arose a problem which taxed the minds of the Council to the utmost, but after Mr. W. Marshall was elected Chairman in 1932, much was done to relieve the situation.

Realising that some bold and comprehensive scheme was necessary, Mr. Marshall went fully into the matter, and in May, 1934, a six-year plan of roading, bridge-building and reconstruction on main highways was approved. In September of the same year the Council, on the suggestion of the Chairman, modified the scheme somewhat so that the expenditure would be spread over a period of ten years, although the work would be completed as originally planned. This was so that the financing of the plan could be carried out without committing the ratepayers to any additional expense.

"This scheme," said Mr. Marshall, in submitting his plan, "will tax to the utmost our resources and the ingenuity and the courage of the councillors, but if carried out it should ultimately place the county in a much better position and give greatly improved main roads without placing any extra burden on our ratepayers...... If the proposals are adopted it will mean carrying a maximum floating debt for about six years and concentrating all energies on the main highways problem.... The county has been spending on the main highways an average of 33.94 per cent. of its gross revenue from general rates, subsidy on same, gold duty and revenue, and licenses and fees. The resources of the Council have not increased, and are not likely to increase, but traffic speed and density has increased and may still further increase."

Estimated to cost £48,000, the scheme provided for the following: - Improvements to roadway, including culverts and metalling up to 18ft., £18,500, easing two corners of Te Aroha Road, £250; bridges, £7500; improvements to railway crossings and widening subway, £1750; two-coat sealing, 30 miles, £20,000. Excellent progress was made, and the work would have been completed in much less time than was provided for; but from October 31, 1936, with the classification of State Highways throughout the Dominion, the Main Highways within the County from Hikutaia to Te Aroha, and from Puke to the Tauranga County were declared State Highways, and the Council relieved of all expenditure in connection with maintenance or construction of these roads. However, up to March 31, 1937, the Council carried on with the work on the State Highways, the Main Highways Board reimbursing 100 per cent of the expenditure. Up to that date the highways in the County from Hikutaia to Paeroa, Paeroa to Te Aroha, and Paeroa to the Pukerimu Cemetery on the Waihi Road, a total distance of 17 miles were reconstructed and sealed. A further length of four miles of reconstruction was completed, while eight miles of reconstruction was well advanced on the Main Highway between Paeroa and Tauranga County. One new concrete bridge of 24ft. span on the Paeroa-Te Aroha Road was erected.

Other improvements as planned under the scheme were also carried out. During this time the secondary and side roads were by no means neglected; in the six years to 1938, besides general maintenance, no less than 23 miles of these roads were metalled, and over 40 miles formed and reconditioned by the Council, also five new bridges erected. In addition well over 22 miles of roads were re-formed and metalled by the Public Works Department. During the last 13 years a total of 29 miles of Main and State Highways and side roads were reconstructed and sealed, and 80 miles of side roads reconstructed or formed and metalled.

Of this, 11 miles of reconstructing and sealing of the State Highways and 22 miles of forming and metalling side roads was carried out by the Public Works Department, including the reconstruction and widening of the State Highways through the Karangahake Gorge.

Besides the above, and also in the 13-year period, five new steel, concrete and timber bridges over 25ft. span were erected, and many other smaller bridges and culverts.

This work could not have been undertaken without plant, and during the 13 years plant costing £7220 was purchased. With the exception of two small loans of £450 each, the work was completed without increasing the public debt of the County, and only a very small increase in general rates. Whereas at Match 31, 1932, and up until 1942, the Council had an overdraft, it has not had an overdraft at any time during the last 3 years.