The long-awaited confirmation of the Manawatū Gorge replacement motorway has business and civic leaders nearby rejoicing at the economic potential of the build and its benefits.
Transport minister Phil Twyford has confirmed work on Te Ahu a Turanga, the planned replacement highway for State Highway 3 through the gorge, is expected to start early next year and be completed by 2024, at a cost of $620 million.
The New Zealand Transport Agency has taken $100m from the Auckland light rail budget to the highway.
The gorge road closed in April 2017 because of landslips and fears the hillside could come down on the road. Since then, businesses in Woodville, in particular, have struggled with a downturn in customers.
The preliminary concept design has been completed and the transport agency is working through the consent process.
Full construction should start next year.
Twyford said the road would restore a crucial transport link that supported the needs of locals and travellers and boosted the economy.
The rest of the funding will be spread out in the next three-year National Land Transport Programme for 2021-24.