The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) will work with local councils and businesses to assess the rural ring road’s viability for investment.
The project is highlighted in the Accelerate 25 Manawatu-Whanganui Economic Action Plan which was launched today. The plan includes a focus on developing transport infrastructure including consideration of the regional ring road as an immediate priority.
Palmerston North City Council mayor Grant Smith welcomed the annoucement, saying that NZTA’s decision to invest NZ$500,000 in preparing the business case demonstrates the value of central and local government working together. He said that that the Palmerston North region is already well recognised as a freight distribution hub and many firms are investing in developments. “A ring road would accelerate that trend, creating jobs and boosting the local economy,” he added.
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.
"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.”
Transport minister Simon Bridges said that the route is important, not only for the 23,000 vehicle movements a day between Palmerston North and Feilding, but also to 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,” he said.