While the deferral of a decision on the alternative Manawatu Gorge route is disappointing to the road transport industry it is critical that the best option is found, says Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley.
“Many freight operators active in the lower North Island will be concerned at this delay and that is understandable,” says Shirley. “The current alternative routes are not really suitable for heavy vehicles and add a good deal of stress to the freight task.
“While RTF and our associations wish all due haste to the NZTA project team we acknowledge the complexity of the decision and all the variety of factors that need to be taken into account.”
Shirley says each option has its relative benefits, some of which require further infrastructure scoping and planning while others are a more direct replacement for the gorge.
“It is heartening that NZTA remains committed to delivering the project within its original timeframes as pushing things out even further is just not an option for lower North Island freight operators.”
Shirley says the RFT looks forward to a decision early in the new year.