"I've brought my spade, so when do we start?" was one man's response to the NZ Transport Agency's gorge replacement public information session in Dannevirke on Tuesday evening.
However, the reaction to the digital views of the proposed new route were overwhelmingly positive and people were also pleased the NZTA was continuing its consultation process.
"It looks wonderful," Elaine Weber said. "With no sharp corners and two lanes each way it will make a difference."
Faye Carroll was also impressed.
""It's very good and will make the traffic move much better, which will be especially good for truckies," she said.
Like many, Ray Beckett just wants the NZTA to get on with it.
"I hope they start shovelling next week," he said.
However, project manager Lonnie Dalzell, said there is still the consent and procurement process to complete before work can get under way in 2020.
"We've compressed a four-year process into 18-months by doing them in parallel, so NZTA is taking a lot of risk because, along with the government, we are putting a big priority on this road," he said.
And contrary to claims by National's Amy Adams at a Dannevirke Chamber of Commerce meeting recently, that the completion date would be 2026-27, Dalzell said he is confident the completion date of 2024 set by NZTA would be met.
"In terms of what is coming up for NZTA, this is the biggest project," Dalzell said.
"The new route is just under 12km and there will be six million cubes [cubic metres] of cut to make it happen, half the size of Transmission Gully." (The Transmission Gully project is 26.9km, with 10 to 12 million cubes of cut).
While the final design hasn't been confirmed, the digital flyover of the indicative route sees the new road run from near the western entry of the closed State Highway 3 gorge route, across the Ruahine Range north of the gorge, and reconnect to SH3 at Woodville.
Paul Clayton said the new route looks impressive.
"It looks like a lot of work involved, but it will be great when it's done," he said.
Terry Hynes agreed the digital view of the new route looked impressive.
"NZTA needs to commended on its consultation process too," he said.
"It's a pleasing timeframe they've given for completion and they are pretty confident," he said.
Former Tararua mayor Bob Trotter said he appreciated the fact NZTA is "trying very hard to do it right."