The Tararua District Council has added its voice to the calls for a separate cycle and walkway for the new proposed Manawatu-Tararua Highway.

The council says it believes this needs to occur before hearings to avoid delays on the highway's construction from potential appeals to the process.

At its meeting last week, councillors were told any delay in the start of construction would have an ongoing adverse impact on the freight, social and economic outcomes for the district and there were concerns the NZTA had not covered in adequate detail an assessment of the walkway and cycleway.

However, NZTA senior project manager Lonnie Dalzell told the Dannevirke News the agency was still at an early stage of the design process. As part of the Notice of Requirement (NoR) to secure a corridor, an indicative design of the road was provided to illustrate what environmental effects might occur and how they could be managed.

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"The NoR includes design philosophies and a design framework which will be used to develop the future design and does not preclude walking and cycling matters being considered in the design process," he said. "The provision of safe and appropriate walking and cycling facilities along the new route will be considered as part of the future design process.

"We are not seeking to consent the design of the project at this time, as this will be developed during the next stages of the project's development."

Dalzell said any design changes and development would be done in conjunction with project partners and stakeholders, which included the Tararua District Council.