Upgrading one of the country's last unsealed highways could provide an econmic boost by up to $28 million to the Hawke's Bay and Bay of Plenty regions.
Wairoa District Council wants the Government to prioritise sealing 22km of State Highway 38 between Murupura - Wairoa through Te Urewera National Park.
Mayor Les Probert says in 2001 a plan to upgrade and seal the road was put out for tender, as part of the Labour Goverment's aim to seal all highways.
But the project was canned before tenders closed.
Te Urewera Rainforest Group says there will also be social and health benefits for deprived communities in Bay of Plenty.
Transport Minister Stephen Joyce says upgrading may provide tourism benefits, but sealing the highway will be a major project.
The district council says its next move is organising meetings with the Ministers of Economic Development and Tourism.