This summer the Chronicle is bringing you another look at some of the best content of 2019. This story originally ran on July 17, 2019
Frustration is building at the time it is taking to repair a slip near Upokongaro on State Highway 4.
One resident is calling it an "absolute disgrace" and a Whanganui district councillor says the road is being "neglected".
The road slipped away after flooding in June 2015, Whanganui's worst flood on record. Four years later it remains in a state of disrepair and no one appears to be working on it.
The riverside lane is barricaded where the road slipped away and traffic passing through the area 10km from Whanganui is controlled by lights.
Upokongaro resident Wayne Keenan is the owner of Keenan Concrete Services and drives along the stretch of road about four times a day.
Keenan said driving it is not only an inconvenience, but it is also dangerous.
"You've got people jumping the lights, I see it all the time. They've had the police and everything out there," Keenan said.
"It should be fixed. If we get another major flood, the rest of it could go. Where are we then?"
Keenan's staff also pass through the damaged stretch of road regularly, travelling to his Lismore property and out to jobs across the central area.
Another big part of his travel is towing horses back and forth because he is a trainer.
Keenan has lived in the area for 30 years and although slips are somewhat commonplace, he has never seen one left unattended for so long.
That is not to say that repairs have not been attempted. The NZ Transport Agency began working on the damaged road on May 11, 2017.
However, the repair failed.
On June 25 about 3m of backfill slumped and the bottom of the repair was unstable, failing to hold hundreds of tonnes of fill being put in the dropout.
Keenan said it was a mess and an absolute disgrace.
Just how much money has been spent on repairing the slip remains unknown. That question was left unanswered when put to NZTA by the Chronicle last week.
NZTA regional transport systems manager Mark Owen said the initial repair work was completed, but a further underslip created additional problems that prevented the work from progressing.
"The location and complexity of the underslip makes a repair like this difficult," Owen said.
"The locale of the slip in relation to the proximity to the river presents additional challenges to overcome. We also need to take into consideration adjacent properties."
Owen said repairing SH4 was a high priority and further repairs had been scheduled, however, he failed to provide a timeframe for those repairs.
"The Transport Agency is currently assessing the options for the best approach for the repairs on this site," he said.
"As well as assessing the logistics of the site and the damage to the road, we are also going through the usual consents and planning processes."
The slip between Whanganui and Upokongaro is not the only one in the district, especially not on SH4.
Repairs are constantly being carried out on the Parapara Rd between Whanganui and Raetihi as well, causing concerns for travellers.
One of those is councillor Helen Craig, who spoke at Whanganui District Council's meeting this month about a lack of information being provided by NZTA.
"SH4, as we all know, is still in a shocking state," Craig said.
"That road is already down in three places at least to [a] single lane. If we lose that immediate road north, that's going to affect a lot of things ..."
Craig said she did not believe there would be any movement from NZTA unless council lobbied, but she did not see that happening.
But Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall said he had lobbied about it publicly and regularly since becoming mayor in 2017.
"Whether they ignore us or not is another thing," McDouall said.
"You can't say we're not being front and centre about it and we cannot drag a government department in here who's not responsible to us," he said.
"I don't want to necessarily poison the relationship with NZTA, when they're actually funding some of our major infrastructure in town."
Craig said: "But we have seen nothing in writing, nothing in these reports and nothing consistent.
"... that road is sitting out there obvious to everybody that it is being neglected and [with] no schedule of when it's going to be addressed and this has been dragging on."
McDouall said NZTA director regional relationships Emma Speight was willing to attend a future meeting, which was welcomed by Craig.
There are three slips that are being worked on or require repair on the Parapara Rd currently, one of which is in Ruapehu.
Of the four slips that occurred after the 2015 flood, two have been repaired.
Those remaining are the Whanganui and Upokongaro slip and the one on Anzac Pde near the city bridge, which has also seen progress grind to a halt.