Transport Minister Michael Wood broke ground for Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway – the new road that will replace the former SH3 route through the Manawatū Gorge today.
Michael Wood was joined by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Woodville to mark the occasion along with Tararua District Mayor Tracey Collis, local MPs Tangi Utikere and Kieran McAnulty, iwi and community leaders.
Michael Wood said the project is a great example of the Government’s focus on accelerating the economic recovery.
“This project is creating hundreds of jobs and has a target to employ 60 per cent locals on the project, which will help upskill the region’s workforce.
“The new road will reconnect Manawatū, Tararua, Hawke’s Bay and Wairarapa, helping freight move quicker and assisting the region’s economic growth.
“Safety is our top transport priority and the new highway will be built to the latest safety standards. There will be a central median barrier along the highway, 1.5m wide shoulders, and slow vehicle lanes to allow people to pass heavy trucks safely.
“We’re also building back better and the highway will include a safe separated path which will link up to other local pathways, supporting cycle tourism in the region.
“The project team is working to protect the environment as much as possible. They will plant 46ha of native forest, protect and enhance 48ha of existing forest, undertake pest control in 300ha of forest reserve and rehabilitate 28km of streams through planting 110ha of plants around waterways. Around two million plants are expected to be planted.
“I want to acknowledge the strong partnership between the project Alliance, Waka Kotahi and local iwi which is setting a great example for our upcoming major infrastructure projects,” Michael Wood said.
Te Ahu a Turanga will be 11.5km of new highway between Ashhurst and Woodville, with six bridges and structures, and a shared path for walkers and cyclists.
Enabling works on the $620 million project are underway, with main construction beginning early next month. The highway is expected to be completed at the end of 2024.