Any sealed rural roads damaged by logging trucks will probably be left that way until the bulk of forests are harvested across the Wanganui district.
That was the picture painted by Wanganui District Council infrastructure manager Mark Hughes this week.
Mr Hughes told the council's operations and reporting committee, that heavy traffic volumes - and mainly logging trucks - will increase over the next 10 years as more of the district's plantations are cut.
He said the conditions of some of those roads will be worse during the winter months.
He said the council was working with its rural community board and Horizons Regional Council to see if there was any way to limit the potential damage. That could include restricting logging trucks to designated routes.
"But it may mean that sealed roads are left to go back to gravel and not be reinstated until the forestry harvesting has finished," Mr Hughes said.
The impact of the heavy traffic is expected to peak in three years' time but the problem facing council is funding.
"We just don't have the money," he said.
According to the latest estimates there are almost 30,000ha of forest in the Wanganui region due for harvest by 2040. A council study into the effects of forestry on the district's rural roads showed it would cost an extra $20 million over 30 years to provide the present level of roading "service".
Mr Hughes told the Chronicle earlier that the decade between 2020-30 was expected to be the period of the most intense harvesting in the Wanganui region.
He said council staff would be working with Horizons at the time forest "harvest plans" were submitted to the regional council under conditions of its One Plan.
He said the district council could not impose special conditions for road users, such as the multi-axle logging trucks.
"Our District Plan, bylaws or other council resolutions currently don't contain provisions that would allow council to impose restrictions on vehicles on using public roads and which comply with current traffic regulations," he said.
There were a number of rural roads across the district that would be under pressure when forest harvesting stepped up; roads that linked the forests to the state highway network.
These include Brunswick Rd, Blueskin Rd, Tokomaru East Rd, Tokomaru West Rd, Rangitatau East Rd and Rangitatau West Rd in the Brunswick area on the western side of the district, and Kauangaroa Rd and Warrengate Rd on the eastern side of the district.