The NZ Transport Agency has welcomed the Environmental Protection Agency's decision on the designation and consent applications for the Christchurch Southern Motorway Stage 2.
Southern Regional Director Jim Harland says the Board's approval of the applications will enable the Transport Agency to fast-track the second stage of the motorway.
The Transport Agency applied to the EPA for designation and consent late last year, the project being accepted as a Proposal of National Significance and a Board of Inquiry being appointed by the Minister for the Environment to hear submissions and make a decision.
Mr Harland says the EPA's single streamlined process, rather than having to apply for separate consents through the Christchurch City Council, Selwyn District Council and Environment Canterbury, means the Transport Agency can now proceed with detailed design and construction.
"The detailed design stage will take about two years to complete. We expect construction to get underway in the 2015/16 financial year and take three years to complete."
He says the $220 to $250 million Southern Motorway Stage 2, part of the Christchurch Roads of National Significance Southern Corridor, will create a safer and more efficient four-lane, median-separated highway from the south.
"When both stages are completed, the Southern Motorway will have the capacity to carry more than double the volume of traffic currently on the existing roads, will halve the current travel time from Rolleston to Christchurch from 30 minutes to less then 15 minutes and help to reduce serious crashes by up to 40 per cent.
"This is great news for Greater Christchurch, in particular for the rebuild and the economy. The safer, more efficient movement of goods and services about the area provides social, economic and environmental benefits for the whole community.
"Goods get to market more cost effectively and in a fresher state; our Greater Christchurch communities are better connected, making it easier and safer for everyone to get to where they want; and by moving heavy traffic from local roads our communities have a safer environment to walk and cycle."
Christchurch International Airport Company Chief Executive Jim Boult says the Christchurch Southern Motorway Stage 2 offers significant benefits in terms of economic growth for the region.
"With easier access and more direct routes to freight hubs and export markets through the airport, the Southern Motorway opens up new economic opportunities, as well as supporting growth in tourism."
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says news of the EPA's approval of the designation and consents for the second stage of the Christchurch Southern Motorway is positive for Christchurch.
"The city has undergone significant change with the earthquakes through the displacement of people and is on the cusp of unprecedented growth as a result of the rebuild. Long-term access for people, goods and services is critical for Christchurch to keep moving and to prosper.
"The first stage of the motorway has already helped our communities to get to where they live, work and play and this second stage will provide an important connection for new communities to the south and links to neighbouring Selwyn district," she says.