The Mayor of Hastings says there is a lack of action from the government on the road between Napier and Taupō, where eight people have died in the past year.
Sandra Hazlehurst said Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) told her the road was not a priority to fix but in her view, doing nothing was no longer an option.
She gets about two calls a day from residents who are frustrated and scared by the risk of travelling on that part of State Highway 5.
NZTA data shows since 2014, there have been more than 250 crashes reported on the highway between Eskdale and Tarawera, ranging from the most serious causing fatalities to non-injury ones.
Most of those crashes have been caused by drivers losing control on bends and head-on collisions.
The Hastings District Council understood a business case for the route was included in the last Hawke's Bay Regional Land Transport Plan, pitched to NZTA by the councils, to start in 2020-21.
But it was not included for funding in the National Land Transport Programme.
"The government must invest more into the maintenance and safety improvements for this major highway so we can reduce the death and injury toll," Hazlehurst said.
"I'm not going to sit back and see and hear each week that we've had further and continual crashes on the road without doing something about it."
In reponse to Hazlehurst's claims, NZTA told RNZ no-one was available for an interview today.
But the agency's regional transport systems manager Oliver Postings said in a statement "significant work" had been completed in the region.
This included a $12 million programme of maintenance and renewal for the region, including resealing, rebuilding and water-cutting for SH5.
"This is an ongoing programme and will help ensure we keep the road safe for motorists. Over the winter we have crews out fixing pot holes and any other pavement defects. This is part of our standard maintenance regime.
"While there are no current plans for major capital works on the SH5, we continue to explore possible options to improve the highway in the future and remain open to feedback or ideas.
"Around 3000 people travel this road safely every day but it's worth reminding everyone, particularly in winter, to drive to the weather and road conditions. In addition to our maintenance and renewals programme for SH5, we will be working with Roadsafe Hawke's Bay and NZ Police on educating motorists about safer speeds and driving to the conditions, among other relevant messaging to promote safe driving."