Transport and Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges announced today the rural ring road for Palmerston North is a step closer, with funding confirmed for the next stage of two key sections of the route.

The two projects will improve the connections on State Highway 3 between Kairanga and Bunnythorpe, and on Napier Road, from Keith Street to Whakarongo.

“The Palmerston North Rural Ring Road is an important part of the Manawatu-Whanganui freight distribution network,” Mr Bridges says.

The rural ring road will connect the distribution hub to the Manawatu Gorge, Bulls, and the State Highway network to Wellington as well as improving the route to Whanganui.

“With 23,000 vehicles using the route between the City and Fielding every day it’s essential that this important route is developed to enable the safe movement of commuter and freight traffic,” Mr Bridges says.

Once complete, the route will cut travel times for the movement of freight, promote economic development and make residential streets safer.

“The Manawatu region is an important transport link through the North Island. It is vital that the transport network enables economic growth, not only for this region, but for the country,” Mr Bridges says.

Engagement with key stakeholders and community representatives will commence in May 2017 with construction expected to begin early 2018.

Funding for the initial investigation of the ring road was announced as part of the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Economic Development Action Plan, Accelerate25, launched on 12 August 2016.

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