A $3 million boost for Nelson's cycleways will fuel the local MP's argument for shifting the state highway from the city's waterfront to a new urban link through town.
The Nelson Coastal Route, to be built from the Government's $100 million Urban Cycleways programme, will connect the city with the seaside suburb of Tahunanui and nearby airport.
The path it will follow along the city's coveted waterfront is currently dominated by State Highway 6, which carries thousands of cars and trucks daily.
Nelson MP Nick Smith said it remained a priority for him to shift the highway from the waterfront.
"This $3 million of funding for improving Nelson's cycleways is a huge boost to cementing Nelson's reputation as one of the best regions in the country for cycling. The new route will connect the city with the airport and the Great Taste Trail," Dr Smith said.
His preference is for the long-planned southern link, which would direct cars and freight trucks through the city.
Dr Smith said while the cycleway could go ahead with or without the southern link, it made sense to look at two projects in tandem.
Nelson City Council and the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) have welcomed the funding. The route and type of cycleway will become clearer through planning over the next 12 to 18 months.
A Nelson cycling group says $3 million in Government funding for a new sea front cycleway is a vote of confidence in the work that's been happening in the city.
Chris Allison of Bicycle Nelson Bays said a decent coastal pathway that would link the city with the sea was long overdue, and it should not be overshadowed by talk of whether or not the state highway should be shifted to accommodate waterfront development.
He said it would be an investment in the future, and the focus should be on celebrating that.
The Urban Cycleways Programme is designed to take full advantage of all available funding sources, including the National Land Transport Fund and local government, to enable high quality projects to get underway much sooner than may otherwise have been the case.