A board of inquiry has given a draft thumbs up to the $1 billion Transmission Gully highway link north of Wellington, a key element of improving traffic flows between the capital and Levin.
The board of inquiry into the Transmission Gully proposal said in a draft decision it would grant consents for the project, which would provide a faster alternative to the current coastal road.
The draft decision covers consents required for Transpower, local authorities and the NZ Transport Agency.
Acting transport minister Steven Joyce said the draft approval was "a good step forward" in a route that aims to cut travel times between Linden and MacKays Crossing.
The board of inquiry releases its final decision in June.