Local Government and businesses across central and eastern North Island welcome the New Zealand Transport Agency Board’s deferral of its decision on the preferred option for replacing the Manawatu Gorge route, pending further detailed work to understand the relative benefits of the options.
Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith says while it’s important to confirm an alternative route as fast as possible, given the immediate economic impacts of the Gorge road closure, the decision on an alternative route presents a unique opportunity to deliver more than just a traditional roading solution.
“We fully support the conclusion they have reached that further work is needed to assess the four shortlisted options, including the extent to which they would respectively contribute to unlocking the economic potential of the whole central and eastern North Island region,” says Mayor Smith.
Representatives of the eight local authorities that have an interest in the option that is ultimately selected, in terms of its role as strategic infrastructure to support regional economic development, will continue to work with NZTA as it undertakes further assessment.
Tararua District Mayor Tracey Collis says significant investment will be required for any of the options to replace the Manawatu Gorge route, so it is important for central and local government to work together to optimise the investment for the long term.
“It’s also consistent with the recent change to the Government Policy Statement, which emphasises the need to take account of regional economic development,” says Mayor Collis.