National will invest $35 million on Route 52 upgrade

The next National-led government will spend $35 million upgrading Route 52 in the Tararua District, National’s Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

Mr Bishop visited Pahiatua today with National’s Wairarapa candidate Mike Butterick to announce the good news to Tararua District Mayor Tracey Collis and local councillors.

“Mayor Collis has been a spirited advocate for upgrading this road, as has Mike Butterick and his predecessor, Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott,” Mr Bishop says.

“There has been huge disappointment in recent years as Route 52 has missed out on NZTA funding, driven by the Labour-led Government’s cuts to road funding. So the belated announcement last week that Route 52 would get $14.6 million as Covid-19 shovel-ready infrastructure funding was welcome, albeit three years too late.

“But the Government’s announcement only covers the Weber to Wimbledon section of Route 52, completely missing the section from Weber to Pongaroa. National’s $35 million commitment will see this section of Route 52 upgraded as well.”

Upgrades on the road include bridge improvements, guardrails, realignments of tight bridge approaches, and repairs.

Route 52, formerly State Highway 52, runs the entire length of the Tararua District. It is a key link for rural residents and coastal communities, as well as an important freight connector, particularly for logs.

The road is deteriorating due to increased heavy traffic. The road was simply not designed for the current traffic volumes or loads, particularly heavy traffic, Mr Bishop says.

Route 52 is also part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail network as a Heartland Ride. National’s upgrade will improve the smoothness of the road and make it easier for truck drivers, car drivers and cyclists.

“This is a long overdue project and one that I am looking forward to delivering alongside Mike in government,” Mr Bishop says.