Nelson mayor Aldo Miccio is supporting a tunnel under the suburb of Victory for the city's southern link route.
The mayor says his position does not contradict his recently announced bid, jointly with Nelson MP Nick Smith, for the route to become a road of national significance (Rons) which would give it priority for government funding and construction.
However, a group calling itself Stop the Southern Link says the mayor is "deliberately confusing the facts for political gain".
The subject is again shaping up as a key issue in the mayoral campaign.
A dispute between the mayor and Stop the Southern Link broke out on the group's recently launched Facebook page last week. Those behind the new group have so far remained anonymous.
In a posting on the site, Mr Miccio said the Nelson City Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency had agreed the southern corridor was the preferred option if and when traffic volumes demanded another major route to the city.
Studies projected that demand would not be reached for 25 years.
Mr Miccio said the council was working in the meantime to investigate travel demand management initiatives such as cycling, walking and buses "in the hope that extra roading capacity may not be needed".
"But if it is needed in 25 years my view is that our only hope of government funding for a tunnel is if it has Rons status, as I would not support a road going directly through Victory unless it was a tunnel under Victory.
"It's about planning for the worst and concurrently working hard to achieve the best."
However, in its posts, Stop the Southern Link said the NZTA website showed roads of national significance projects were fast tracked and built within 10 years.
It accused the mayor of "deliberately confusing the facts for political gain", and said Rons funding could not be banked for future use. Mr Miccio said new projects accepted as Rons would have their own timelines.
He said new (traffic) modelling data was due to be done early next year and if it showed that demand had increased "over the threshold", then it would trigger a potential road development, and "without Rons status a tunnel would not be possible".
"If the data showed that the road was still not needed, and it would not be for at least 25 years, then it was unlikely the road would get Rons status," Mr Miccio said.
Stop the Southern Link said the response was "nonsense".
Nelson councillors agreed by a small margin in August 2011 to support a southern arterial corridor through the Victory area as the city's sole option for managing future transport challenges.
WHAT THEY SAY
Aldo Miccio: "As Mayor of Nelson, in conjunction with current council, and the agreement of NZTA, plans are already in place which would necessitate any actual southern arterial route to utilise the Railway Reserve land. Studies undertaken on a triennial basis historically indicate demand for this route to be unnecessary for some 25 years. In the event that demand has, or is rising, every effort will be made to ensure the best possible outcome for Nelson and Victory."
Rachel Reese: "Rather than being a cul-de-sac, Victory needs to be part of that roading network, just like other parts of our city.
"Now is the time to plan for the southern arterial link. As part of that planning we will need to address and respect what is important to the Victory community.
"I know my views will be unwelcome to some. However, I must support what I believe is critical for the whole region. There is no doubt in my mind that the southern arterial link needs to be connected."
Brian McGurk: "No, for the time being. The southern link route has been talked about for more than 50 years. The reason the road has never been built remains the same - the cost and the benefits of the project do not justify it. We would be better off considering and advancing other transportation options and projects that will benefit Nelsonians."
Richard Osmaston: "I cannot comment on the arterial proposal. The planet is headed towards catastrophic failure on un-countable fronts. We have to focus on our responsibilities and serious, uncompromising solutions. We are too aware now of our real problems to any longer be distracted by such banal, irrelevant and distracting neighbourly disputes as where to build a road that we neither need nor want. A road that only promotes greed, division, suffering and damage. Let's elevate our discussion to more civilised and responsible subjects.
"Worthy of our capacity as human beings. In a resource-based economy Nelson wouldn't even need any new roads."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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