By Robin Martin of RNZ
After the indignity of being labelled a "zombie town" Whanganui is now experiencing a growth spurt that has seen it fall victim to that most metropolitan of scourges - traffic congestion.
And one pinch-point raises the heckles more than most - the more than 100-year-old Dublin Street Bridge.
Opened to trams, vehicles and pedestrians in 1914 the historic two-lane steel bridge connects State Highways 3 and 4 via central Whanganui.
It cost the princely sum of $75,000, took two and a half years to build and contains 1000 tonnes of steel, and 30 tonnes of rivets.
But controlled via roundabouts at each end, the Dublin Street bridge is struggling with the 5000 new residents Whanganui has attracted over the past few years.
Former police officer and writer Rob Rattenbury recently kicked up a storm when he called on the council and Waka Kotahi to get on and fix it.
"If there's a blockage on either side of the river and you're stuck on the bridge that's it. You don't go anywhere.
"And that does happen because the traffic is increasing and also some of the drivers are unsure about driving on the bridge at times so that slows everybody down.
"It was a bridge designed for horse and carts and trams so maybe it should be allowed to go back to doing something quieter in its old age."
Rattenbury still wanted the old bridge to stay.
"We need a new bridge because town deserves it, but why not keep this bridge as a walkway, cycleway and why not stick a tram line back down it again.
"There is a tram project under way which is supposed to be extending the tram line up Somme Parade towards the bridge, why not run it up on to the bridge and back again."
Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall said the Dublin St/Somme Pde roundabout was the most dangerous intersection in the city.
"Whanganui East is our biggest suburb, a lot of people, I used to live there. It's a great place to live, but the bridge is over 100 years old now and it's not wide enough so there are pinch points particularly on an afternoon after school or maybe on a Saturday morning after when the football finishes over at Wembley Park."
A replacement bridge is on the council's radar.
"Really for a fit for purpose we need a new one and for several long-term plans in a row it's been put out in the ninth or tenth year, so we're beginning the process of putting budget in the long term plan for the next three years."
McDouall said that would involve spending on consultation with stakeholders including hapū and iwi and putting together a business case for government funding.
He said there was no way Whanganui would be able to pay for a new bridge on its own.
Perhaps freshly-minted Labour MP Steph Lewis could help.
She had definitely noticed the traffic increasing.
"The Dublin Street Bridge which is an iconic part of our skyline has become a little bit of a bottleneck.
"We used to say that you could take five minutes to get anywhere in Whanganui and I think people are now saying you'd better allow 10 minutes instead."
For some locals the delays much worse than that.
Nathan used to travel over the bridge routinely.
"I used to work at another business over Whanganui East and come home at three o'clock everyday. I needed half an hour at least, 20 minutes to half an hour to get across the bridge."
Heidi wasn't a fan either.
"It's terrible. Any time from a quarter to eight you're stuck there for about 45 minutes."
Meanwhile, Hamish McDouall said there was no guessing how much a new bridge would cost and warned keeping the old one might not be possible.
"If it goes in the same place retaining it gets a bit difficult so I don't know, but it is a very beautiful old iron bridge and we light some of it up at night. If there's any chance of keeping it we'd look at that."
Once a business case for a new bridge has been drawn up, the next step would be to file a funding request with Waka Kotahi.
If successful, the consenting process would begin between 2024 and 2027.
Detailed design and procurement would then happen in 2027 and 2028 in readiness for construction beginning in 2030.