Devastation was the reaction from Herbertville residents when they were told at a meeting last week that there was no government funding available to repair Route 52.

The council had applied for funding from the NZ Transport Agency to fix the road, which runs from Weber to Wimbledon, as it is in poor condition. But a staff report presented to Wednesday's Tararua District Council meeting from chief executive Blair King said NZTA had notified him and mayor Tracey Collis on May 23 by phone that the project may miss out on funding because of 'significant oversubscription'.

"Media are highlighting how NZTA has cut previously approved projects to cater for cost increases on nationally significant projects," the report said.

After the meeting King said there had been some strong indicators from the government that funding would be cut when major projects around the country that had already been approved, such as the Melling Interchange, were dropped.

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"The council will still be putting money in to fix the road but will be spending less than $1 million a year on it."

He said work would be carried out on small sections at a time.

"However, this does look illogical to road users who question why we just work on small areas."

He said work would no longer be carried out on building retaining walls.

Route 52 washout site. Photo / File
Route 52 washout site. Photo / File

"Where roads are subsiding, we are working with farmers to shift roads onto farmland."
He said what was not going to help the state of the road was that prediction of a trebling of logging traffic.

"Heavy trucks combined with wet weather will turn small bumps in the road into areas where drivers have to travel very slowly over."

The council had applied for funding under the higher Targeted Enhanced Funding Assistance Rate which would significantly reduce the council's contribution.

"Then we hoped for some traditional funding, but there was no money in the kitty."
The news came less than a week before a public meeting at Herbertville to update residents on what progress there had been.

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Collis said there was considerable devastation in the room at the announcement.

The Herbertville meeting was chaired by Councillor Jim Crispin who said it was well attended by locals who would have been keen to learn what progress had been made.
"It was an extremely sobering visit having to tell residents that now there was no longer funding for this project."

After the meeting Crispin said the issue of the road had been ongoing for four or five years.

"The community was consulted and through the annual plan the project was accepted. There were regular meetings to keep the Herbertville community updated and it was understood funding had been approved."

He said it was essential work be carried out on the road because of its shocking state.

"This was the single most expensive project that would have been undertaken in the district. It's a major arterial route that is used by an increasing number of logging trucks, the farming sector, local people, people who use the beach and tourists."

Crispin said pressure needed to be put on politicians to get some action.

"We need to have politicians driving the road themselves. That might have some impact. We have to have some funding for our roads. This is a serious issue."

He said it was very hard having to front the public meeting.

"Herbertville is such a positive community that doesn't ask the council for anything so it was difficult telling them there had been a complete about face."

Long-time resident Top Gollan wasn't able to attend the meeting but he had heard the outcome.

"It's a real shame. And with winter about to start the road will be stuffed."