A new road through Whakatu's industrial centre will cut down travel time, save vehicle costs and reduce crashes presenting a total net benefit of $83.8million.
The figure was presented to the Hawke's Bay Regional Transport Committee on Friday by Hastings District Council's transport manager Jag Pannu, describing the Whakatu arterial route which could be built in three years.
The new route aims to provide a better link between Havelock North, through to Whakatu's industrial hub, on to Pakowhai Rd and the expressway through to the Napier Port. It was geared particularly to take heavy traffic to the port and was one of three major road projects on the books over the next three years.
Mr Pannu's report on the benefits on the new road said the cost savings on travel time was $48.5million, the estimated saving on vehicle operating costs was $16.1million and the money saved by fewer crashes due to an improved road, was $19.1million.
The benefits were weighed up against the cost of the project, which was expected to be $19.7million. The council's share of that price was $5.8million and the New Zealand Transport Agency would contribute $13.9million.
Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said a study of the region's roads put the Whakatu link at the top of 30 projects reviewed. He agreed the new link would improve safety at major intersections but it would also increase Whakatu's profile as a major industrial hub for the region.
"Whakatu is hugely popular at the moment. It's got everything going for it logistically. It will be a very good connection to the Hawke's Bay Expressway, the Napier Port and northbound.
"It also has rail through the middle, water and wastewater capacity and is probably the premier industrial area at the moment which is why a lot of people are going there."
Mr Yule said long term he thought the industrial precinct could be "looking a bit better".
"Based on what I have seen at other industrial parks overseas and around New Zealand, we have to have a conversation around branding and landscape design of entrances to the area, to get it looking better than it is now."
The new road would take away heavy traffic from using residential roads linking with State Highway 2. "The aim is to allay the concerns the residents had and this will take heavy traffic out on to the arterial route and stop vehicles using the coastal road to Napier Port, for example."
The new road would be built over horticultural land and Mr Yule said he understood the council was close to achieving approval from land owners.
"There were big concerns from land owners about where the road was going to go but I understand they are reasonably comfortable about where the road is going to go, and we can move on to the next stage."
If the council could achieve land owner agreement, the design of the road would be refined and the project would go out to tender.