Our roads vital for survival
Welcome to a new monthly column from Richard Williams, chief executive of the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce. He will focus on issues that affect Taranaki businesses, which means it could affect your job.
In late September SH 3 was closed for four-anda-half days following the initial slip on Sunday, September 18. The consequences of that were not only inconvenient, but once again focused our attention on just how crucial that road is to our economy.
It is our ‘‘umbilical cord’’. You might think that is a bit dramatic as it’s not a matter of life or death, but the reality is for a significant number of businesses in our region, it can be the difference between economic survival and closure.
We are all aware of the downturn in diary and the energy sectors, but there is so much more to Taranaki’s commerce. The freight companies play a big part, and we are familiar with the sight of tankers and trucks taking their loads in both directions.
We are looking to attract more tourists to our region to experience our scenery, culture and unique events.
Keeping a road closed is never an easy decision, especially when the detour adds considerable time to drivers. However, people’s safety is paramount and we cannot re-open a road before it is safe to do so.
The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) says it is doing everything possible to fully stabilise the slip and it is a priority for completion in 2017 but the reality is that in the last two weeks there have been four more slips resulting in shortterm lane closures, so a long-term continuous SH3 upgrade plan is needed.
Perhaps it is appropriate to re-look at a Port Taranaki-Port Nelson ‘‘Bluebridge’’ as an alternative heavy goods and tourist route between North and South Island.
It would link SH3 with SH6 and develop the NZ West Coast ‘‘Tasman Highway’’.
Now that would be a tremendous boost to local economies along its route. We are an advocate for Taranaki’s business community, and by extension, every community in Taranaki.
The latest slip on SH3 near Mokau blocked the road north for days.