The future of a proposed expressway between Otaki and north of Levin may be more uncertain after the NZ Transport Agency said last week it was being "re-evaluated".
Months may have been added to the decision-making process about the road and how it fits with the Labour-led Government's priorities, leaving potentially affected property-owners in limbo.
NZTA director of regional relationships Emma Speight said the project had been identified as requiring re-evaluation to better align with the Government Policy Statement (GPS) on land transport, and once evaluated, it would be "reconsidered".
"We acknowledge the frustration this may result in for communities and people affected by this project," she said.
"The Transport Agency remains committed to working closely with central and local government, communities and key stakeholders to achieve new outcomes and deliver solutions that meet transport needs now and for the future."
Horowhenua's deputy mayor Wayne Bishop said he thought respect was missing from the situation.
"We get it that NZTA needs to be aligned with the government of the day, but we also think that what's missing here is respect," he said.
"Respect for our residents whose lives are on hold because of this process. It's not a kind process, it's upsetting and prolonging it only makes it worse for affected residents."
He said residents were effectively "stuck' and unable to make decisions about their homes such as investing in a new fire or heat pump, or even planting a tree in the garden.
Bishop said with increasing traffic volumes and crashes on the district's highways, something needed to happen.
"Personally, I think someone needs to step up and make a decision," he said.
From a council perspective, he said continued delays were "roadblocking our communities' ability to plan".
"We'll soon be making decisions about how to improve our town centre - that will more than likely see speed limits reduced," he said.
"We want our main street to be a safer place and for it to be a welcoming place, but at the moment our residents don't feel safe [there]."
Bishop, who owns building and property development companies in the district, also said the expressway would be "key" to the areas where new subdivisions and industry can be built.
The draft GPS lays out four new priorities and six objectives. These include safety and improved transport access to economic and social opportunities, as well as providing more resilience and choice, better environmental outcomes and infrastructure which delivers the best value for money. The Government needs to adopt the final GPS by June 30.
NZTA said the agency remained committed to working closely with central and local government, communities and key stakeholders to achieve the outcomes required and solutions to meet transport needs both now and in the future.
Regional Transport Committees are required to align their projects to the new GPS and submit these via their Regional Land Transport Plans to NZTA, to be included in the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP), for adoption by August 31.