'Goat track' idea for gorge backups draws criticism
A suggestion that the Saddle Road and Pahiatua Track could be allowed to decline into "goat tracks" has drawn criticism from a Palmerston North local government candidate.
Adrian Broad took exception to comments made by Vision Manawatu acting chief executive Rodney Wong about possible future priorities for regional roads.
Mr Wong was talking about a regional economic transport study that is under way.
He said he did not know what the implications might be but suggested one of the findings could be that investment in the Desert Road would be more important than upgrading the Manawatu Gorge alternatives.
Cr Broad, a city councillor also standing for the MidCentral District Health Board, said the conjecture was unsettling and should not have been raised by the regional economic development agency. "It's not wise to put that idea out there."
He said being able to access specialist health services in Palmerston North was critical for people living in Tararua and Hawke's Bay.
The Manawatu Gorge and the other roads were also important for tourism and people who travelled for business between Manawatu and Hawke's Bay.
Mr Wong said he was pleased if his comments were getting people talking but he said they had to be understood in context. "We are just starting the study and we don't know yet what it will show."
The focus was on the significance of roading networks for growing Manawatu's role as a transport hub, and the economic benefits that provided to the region.
But it did not overlook the social importance of those networks for moving people around, he said.
Tararua Mayor Roly Ellis said he had spoken to Mr Wong and was comfortable there was no intention to let the condition of the gorge road alternatives slide.
"We are absolutely adamant we need to get the Saddle Road sorted once and for all, after the distress the 14-month closure of the gorge caused our residents, and caused me." He said the Manawatu Gorge or the alternative route over the saddle was vital and growing in importance as a freight route between Manawatu and the Port of Napier.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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