The poor condition of Route 52 is a real road safety issue, MP for Wairarapa Alastair Scott believes.
He was attending a meeting of Weber, Wimbledon and Herbertville residents on Monday who were concerned that a funding application to upgrade the Weber to Wimbledon section of Route 52 had been turned down by the NZ Transport Agency.
Weber resident Trudy Riddell contacted Scott's office on learning that there was no subsidised funding for the road and at short notice arranged two public meetings, one at Wimbledon and the other at Weber. She discussed the issue with Scott who said he would attend the meetings.
He told the Wimbledon meeting the Government talks about road safety as a priority and should therefore deliver.
"But we have roads like this one. National loves building roads and we want better roads for safety and better roads for productivity, for getting logs and livestock out of the district safely."
Scott said his primary role in attending the two public meetings was to look, listen and learn.
Tararua District Councillor Jim Crispin has taken up the campaign to seek funding for the road.
"We have spent four or five years working hard in council to get this road improved. We were assured we had the funding and that work was about to start. Then we heard the Government had pulled the pin on $5 billion in funding for road building. That just rocked us."
Crispin said what made matters worse was that the Government's Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) had just announced on Monday that it had allocated $20.1 million to upgrade Route 52 from Waipukurau to Porangahau.
Scott told the meeting the PGF was nonsense.
"It's under Shane Jones who just throws little bits of money around. How he decides where it will go is nonsense."
Crispin said at the same time there was the announcement that $4.4 million was being allocated to evaluate and construct a rail hub for Dannevirke.
"This would basically see logs trucked into Dannevirke and loaded on to trains to be taken through to the port in Napier."
With a huge amount of logging due to start soon in the area, this would put even more pressure on Route 52.
Crispin said in 1996 the National Government dropped what was State Highway 52 into the lap of Tararua District Council.
"In 1997 the council asked for investment in this road. This is only a small community and there isn't enough money to maintain the roads so we have to fall back on the Government for funding."
Scott acknowledged that Tararua was in a difficult situation as it has a low population but has the highest kilometres of roading network in the country.
He was asked by a member of the public where the money that the Government earned from petrol tax and road user charges had gone.
"It's gone to Auckland for its light rail project," Scott said.
"I would suggest that you have a go at (Infrastructure Minister) Shane Jones, (Associate Minister of Transport) Julie Anne Genter and (Minister of Transport) Phil Twyford."
Crispin said the turnout at the meeting indicated there was strong feeling among the community over the lack of investment in the road.
He said he would push for a meeting with himself, Tararua Mayor Tracey Collis, Twyford, Genter, Jones and Wairarapa list MP for Labour Kieran McAnulty to seek answers.
Scott said he would be prepared to attend such a meeting.