News | 4 October 2023
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Behind the road cones and high-vis vests

It’s not easy maintaining a whopping $1.6 billion worth of city assets, including looking after 700km of roads and 2000km of footpaths. But that’s exactly what Wellington City Council’s Transport and Infrastructure team does.

Two men wearing orange high-vis vests smiling next to each other with their hands in their pockets, standing on the road next to metal fencing.
Wellington City Council's Transport and Infrastructure Manager Brad Singh (left) and Maintenance and Renewals Manager Brian Russell.

Everyday, our Transport and Infrastructure crew is responsible for a vast range of jobs that cover everything from building new assets like bike lanes, footpaths, and pedestrian crossings – to street cleaning and graffiti removal.

They also look after vegetation control, traffic management, and road maintenance and renewals. And then there’s responding to emergencies like flooding, slips and earthquakes.

With over 150 projects on the go at once, it takes a team of 88 transport staff and then a whole bunch of roading contractors to pull these off, says Transport and Infrastructure Manager Brad Singh.

“Our two maintenance contractors are Fulton Hogan and Downer, and between them they have about 300 staff working across the city’s network on different things.”

An infrastructure worker using heavy machinery to drill into the footpath.

Brian Russell worked with Fulton Hogan for about 15 years before joining the Council, where he is now the Maintenance and Renewals Manager.

He compares the mammoth task of managing the maintenance and renewals operation for a capital city, to running a household.

“You have to think of the city like it’s your home, you know? You’ve got to mow the lawn. You’ve got to paint the house. You’ve got to fix the roof. You’ve got to repair the driveway or the pathway. The rubbish must get collected, weeds have to be managed, all the tasks need doing, so it’s the same sort of thing – just on a much bigger scale.”

Brian and his team are also first on the scene when there’s a weather-related event.

“We make the area safe. Make sure traffic can get past, make sure the public is safe, the footpaths are open – whatever we need to do to ensure everyone is safe and the area can function.”

A birds eye view of a roading crew in orange high-vis working to clear a large slip off a road.

Brian says his team is tending to an increasing number of slips around the city. In July and August of 2022 there were over 1100 slips reported. During winter months in previous years, reported slips sat at around 300.

Brian says while unfortunate, the odd bit of abuse from the public comes with the territory of the work, especially for the roading team.

“The team does a bloody good job, but it can be a thankless task.”

Brad adds: “It can be a bit of a challenge at times when people sometimes have unrealistic expectations about what the Council's able to do for them.”

Brad says regardless, he likes to think that some of the most important work being carried out across Wellington is being done by his crew, of whom about 40 percent are women.

Two workers dressed in hard hats and high vis vests, talking next to a large yellow digger.

“It's busy as hell. But I think part of the reward is being able to look after people.”

Whether it’s providing reassurance to community members who are concerned about slips near their properties, or “being able to deliver stuff”, Brad says overall it’s very satisfying work.

“Just being able to be that human touch for people and provide some sort of comfort. Or delivering anything from a new footpath to sometimes quite small things like a wheelie bin for a community picnic.

“Just being able to do that sort of thing and help people out and see the difference that you're making out in the community – it’s one of the big drivers and cool things about the job.”