Arteries, not the word that you hear a lot in business-related articles, but a word which has been on my mind a lot over the last week.
And this is not me highlighting that I have issues with my own or anything like that.
However, a major transport and business artery was severed last week and, like the impact of such a break on your own heart, I am concerned that this latest setback to befall the Paraparas will cause future health issues for local businesses.
Viewing the photographic account of the slip on social media makes you realise that the challenge facing NZTA is significant but apparently not insurmountable. However, the length of time the road will be out of action will become a significant point of conversation and deliberation over the coming weeks – particularly as the summer tourist season starts.
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Roads are likened to arteries for a reason, in that they deliver people, product(s) and service(s) from one point to another. As well as this any requirement to bypass, repair or re-engineer a traditional route (much like a heart bypass) comes with effort, risk and cost.
And the time that it took for the Anzac Parade repairs to be completed leaves me with a worry that Whanganui and its surrounds are low on the league table of government roading priorities. Indeed, this latest slip apart, the roadway through to Raetihi has been in various states of disrepair for many years. My last sojourn up to Ohakune had multiple stops at traffic lights and giving way on one-lane stretches and the return journey was through Fields Track – an exciting winding road which no one with motion-sickness should go anywhere near!
I guess this is where I write to our local MP(s) or is this something that a newly minted Council will advocate better than I can? I can't recall any of the Council hopefuls advocating strongly for a revamp of SH4 or for government to prioritise its roading spend in the region. Perhaps a multi local authority response is what is required here, as this road is crucial regionally as well as locally.
If there is anything at all positive to draw from the position we find ourselves in is that it is a good thing that this event occurred now rather than in winter – a late dumping of snow and closure of the Desert Road would create an interesting situation (interesting for the wrong reasons). Although, if there is no route north on SH4, even temporary, by next winter we may have extended periods where South and West North Island towns and cities have no connection to the Central North Island.
So I'm hoping for a timely resolution and most definitely not a similar experience to another interaction with a government department that I heard about today. I learned that if you want to update log-in details for Government Departments (via "RealMe") you now need an official photo ID from an NZ Post shop. All well and good until you realise that Whanganui's shop has recently closed and that part of the service was apparently not transferred to its current Trafalgar Square home. So, a journey to Palmerston North or Hawera is your only option – just awesome.
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Hopefully the road will be open……….