The Road Transport Association has fired a broadside at the NZ Transport Agency over what it says is a lack of consultation in the wake of a planned closure of SH4 from Whanganui Raetihi this weekend.
Tom Cloke, Road Transport Association central area manager, said the decision by NZTA to close part of the highway just north of the Fields Track turnoff for 12 hours a day would upset the trucking industry and other motorists.
Mr Cloke said if NZTA hadn't procrastinated before getting repairs done in the wake of the June weather event last year "this sort of thing wouldn't be happening".
"And apart from the impact it's going to have on the transport industry, they've decided to do it on the most brilliant weekend skiers have been waiting for," he said.
He said there would be hundreds of people heading from Taranaki to the Mt Ruapehu skifields this weekend but they wouldn't be aware of the closure or detours until they got to Maxwell.
"Are we wild? Yes, we are. We've had absolutely no consultation from NZTA over this decision to close the road. But the last time we met with them they promised faithfully they would.
"NZTA and the Government have been talking a lot recently about being 'freight friendly'. Well this certainly isn't showing that at all," Mr Cloke said.
He said the transport industry has been given no reasonable timeframe to reconfigure their logistics to handle the closure and detours.
"It is unfair and totally unwarranted," he said.
Any motorist planning on using SH4 between Whanganui and Raetihi this weekend will have to revise their travel plans.
That's because a section of the highway will be closed as contractors continue repairing damage caused to the roadway in the wake of the June floods last year.
Ross I'Anson, NZ Transport Agency highway manager, said the closure will be in place from 6.30am-6.30pm from Saturday through to Monday so motorists will need to factor a detour into their travel plans. It will reopen between 6.30pm and 6.30am.
The closure affects a section of the highway north of the Fields Track turnoff where some of the worst damage was caused by washouts.
Mr l'Anson said detours via Fields Track and SH49 will be available for light vehicles.
"But Fields Track isn't suitable for heavy vehicles so they will have to go via SH1, SH3 and SH49."
The detours will add anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours to travelling times.
Traffic heading north from Whanganui to Raetihi will be directed onto Fields Track (Whangaehu Valley Road) and then SH49 through to Ohakune, adding about 30 minutes to a journey. Southbound traffic, from Raetihi to Whanganui, will reverse that route.
Heavy traffic heading north will detour to Bulls on SH3, from Bulls to Waiouru on SH1, then Waiouru to Ohakune on SH49, and then on to Raetihi. The southbound detour is the reverse route. Mr l'Anson said these detours for heavy vehicles will add about 2 hours to a journey.
He said the work is dependent on good weather, so if it can't be carried out on the planned day, it will be undertaken on next available day.
NZTA will provide updates on its website (www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic), on its Central North Island Twitter account (@NZTACNI) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/nztacni).
Its 0800 Highways (0800 44 44 49) phone number can also be used both to get the latest state highway travel information.
"Contractors will assist emergency services along the closed stretch of SH4, along with residents who need to access their properties during the road closure," he said.
Electronic signage will be in place at Tohunga Junction, Waiouru, Bulls and on SH3 north of Whanganui, informing motorists of the road closure and detour routes.
"We appreciate motorists' patience while this important work to repair and stabilise the road is carried out," Mr I'Anson said.
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