The concept of improving access through Nelson has a long history, and over the past 30 years there have been many suggestions for improving travel in Nelson. Some state highway improvements have already been made – including the construction of QEII Drive to the north and Whakatu Drive to the south.
Ensuring an efficient and reliable transport network is not only vital to Nelson’s export-led economy, but to improving community access to Nelson’s environment and amenities.
The most recent pieces of work include the application for a Southern Link Road in 2000 and 2004, the North Nelson to Brightwater Corridor Strategic Study in 2007 and the Nelson Arterial Traffic Study in 2010–2011.
In 2014 the Government asked us to investigate the Nelson Southern Link route as part of its Accelerated Regional Roading Package(external link) for state highways. The package identified regionally important projects that would address economic efficiency, safety and resilience issues.
All this past work has provided a valuable basis for the current investigation, which will help develop transport proposals to provide for Nelson’s current and future transport needs. The state highway is crucial for primary industry and export trade growth in the region, particularly as there is no regional rail network to use as an alternative transport solution.
The Nelson Southern Link Investment Programme Business Case (including Rocks Road Walking and Cycling options) was adopted by the NZ Transport Agency in June 2017, and the 2018–21 National Land Transport Programme includes funding allocation to enable the investigations, including a detailed business case, over the next three years.
The specific project area is bounded by SH6 to the north and east, Rutherford Road/Waimea Road to the south and extending as far south as the Annesbrook Drive roundabout. However, there is a far bigger area of influence for this project, extending beyond Richmond to the south and west, and Atawhai to the north.