The next stage in the development of a rural ring road for Palmerston North has been announced.
The project is highlighted in the Accelerate 25 Manawatu-Whanganui Economic Action Plan launched in August.
"Palmerston North is a major freight and logistics hub for the lower North Island," said Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce. "It's crucial for the wider region and for the Accelerate 25 programme that the city's road access is able to operate efficiently and safely as the region grows.
"This project will help maximise the benefits of the Levin to Wellington Road of National Significance, which will dramatically boost linkages between the region and the capital city to the south."
The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) will progress the project through a strategic business case process that will see them work with local councils and businesses to assess the rural ring road’s viability for investment.
The road would connect the North East Industrial Zone to the Manawatu Gorge, Bulls, and to the state highway network towards Wellington. It would also link to the Longburn industrial park.
“This announcement recognises the significance of the Manawatu-Whanganui region for freight distribution across New Zealand,” said Transport Minister Simon Bridges.
“The route is important, not only for the 23,000 vehicle movements a day between Palmerston North and Feilding, but would also enhance safety by keeping freight traffic away from schools and residential areas.
“The business case process will enable all major stakeholders to work together to identify opportunities to further enhance safety, freight efficiency and the region’s economic prosperity.”
Some of the work that will form part of the rural ring road, specifically the Kairanga to Bunnythorpe Road, is earmarked for investment and is scheduled to begin at the end of 2017.
This includes upgrades to local roads; bridge replacements on Kairanga Bunnythorpe Road; improvements to the Napier Road, including the Roberts Line section, and the Longburn bypass.