Prime Minister, Bill English, announced in Hawke’s Bay today that the Napier-Hastings Expressway is now a Road of National Significance.
As part of a $10.5B investment in 10 roads across the country, the Napier-Hastings Expressway will be double-laned, as well as a permanent solution to the Manawatu Gorge closure.
Napier Port Chairman, Alasdair MacLeod, says the port is predicting significant growth in cargo volumes in coming years and double-laning the expressway is a vital step in future-proofing Hawke’s Bay’s ability to trade with the world.
“We are very happy about this announcement. The port’s already associated with 52% of Hawke’s Bay’s gross regional product and it’s expecting a 49% increase in volume by 2026. That’s great news or our economy, but there are impacts we need to plan for and traffic volume is one of those,” Mr MacLeod says.
“Building a new wharf to cater for growing shipping needs is already being planned for but beyond the port gate the largest single issue is the increase in both road and rail volumes to and from the port.”
The total truck movements alone for just logs and containers in 2026 (in and out) will be 2900 a day during peak season. That’s a more than a 61% increase from this season, Napier Port’s busiest yet.
Mr MacLeod says Napier Port has been speaking regularly to central government about how we fit into the national supply chain, particularly in the wake of the Kaikoura Earthquake.
“Napier Port’s board of directors are very happy the Government has recognised the link between Napier and Hastings as nationally significant, and has seen the value of Napier Port, not only for our region but for New Zealand as a whole.”
“Our next challenge is to ensure the link from the Expressway to Napier Port has the capacity to handle the increased volumes. That critical transport access corridor runs along the state highway arterial routes from the north and south and funnels through Ahuriri.”
“It’s not just the road itself that needs consideration. What was mainly an industrial area in the past is increasingly becoming an intensified residential and office area. We need to think carefully about how those activities will work side-by-side.”
Handling large volumes in a timely way will also require the port to have longer opening hours and that means securing 24 hour access to the port.
Napier Port will carry on working closely with central and regional government stakeholders, and the community, to protect and improve access to the port so our regional economy can continue to thrive.