Built in six months back in the day!

Going through some very old family correspondence, I found the following information from the CV of my wife's father, John Forrest Brodie, in relation to road building in 1939.

He stated: 'In August, 1939, I was posted to Egypt as chief engineer of the Sinai Road project. This involved the construction of approximately 156 miles of road from the North Bank of the Suez Canal at Somailie to the Palestine Frontier. The contract for the design, route, and construction of this road was awarded to the Shell Company of Egypt Ltd, who did me the honour of placing me in charge. The job was completed in six months and, though originally conceived as a tourist attraction, later became a most important military road, carrying many times the volume of traffic for which it was primarily designed.

'This project involved the use of a fleet of 56 track laying tractors, 14 mobile mixing machines, about 30 large mobile bitumen boilers, mobile workshops, graders, scoops and a transport fleet of roughly 250 vehicles at any one time. In addition a labour force of some 2250 men were employed, and stores required averaged 300 tons per day, reaching 500 tins at peak periods.”

Built in six months! When one considers the considerable amount of time taken on Cameron Rd one must consider whether, with modern technology, we have gone backwards. Yes, a lot of workers were involved – probably ALL working hard. Just realise that 156 miles is equivalent to 251km and Auckland, by road, is only 201km. The recent Tauranga City Council leaflet stating that work would finish in three months means Brodie's workers could have built a Tauranga-to-Hamilton road plus a bit! From talking to many people in Tauranga, the common opinion seems to be that we see one worker actually working while five or six others are standing about – whatever time of day. And they get paid! I suppose if the above is put to TCC, then the usual trite answers will come out.

Tim Pickford, Bethlehem.

** Tauranga City Council transport director Brendan Bisley responds:

The construction of the Sinai Rd in 1939 is likely to have been on flat, unbroken ground with no existing services such as water, power and internet with their corresponding pipes and cables to navigate. There would have been no people and businesses to work around, or the same health and safety regulations we adhere to today. Cameron Rd is one of the city's main arteries that we have kept functioning for the duration of the upgrade, ensuring that people have still been able to use the road and that access to businesses, schools and workplaces along the corridor has been maintained. A good deal of the work has involved diverting existing services, as well as installing new services under the ground. There is no direct comparison between the two projects.

The Cameron Road Stage 1 upgrade project was due to be completed in October 2023. We still anticipate completion by the end of this year, which is a positive outcome considering the impact of Covid-19 on resourcing and the record rainfall we have had throughout construction, and this year in particular.

We have had to strike a balance between the need to complete the work as quickly as possible, and the impact on a wide variety of Cameron Rd businesses, which operate at different hours of the day and night, as well as residents who live along the road. Balancing disruption for people affected has been an ongoing challenge.

In regards to the role of our construction workers, ensuring the health and safety of our community and our workers can't be underestimated. For example, each work site has a traffic controller and a pedestrian marshal. Traffic controllers manage the movement of heavy equipment in and out of the site and marshals help pedestrians, cyclists and people with mobility devices move around the work zones safely. They are all vitally important.

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