The NZ Transport Agency has today announced an unprecedented investment of $1.25 billion to boost economic growth and provide people with safer, easier journeys throughout the Wellington region.
NZTA Regional Director Central Jenny Chetwynd says today’s announcement of the National Land Transport Programme for 2012-15 includes more than $400m improving the Wellington Northern Corridor Road of National Significance, more than a third of a billion dollars on public transport, and over a quarter of a billion dollars on the day to day upkeep of the regional roading network. The package also includes funding for a range of long-term infrastructure projects and safety improvements.
Key aspects of the funding package include:
Ms Chetwynd said the Wellington Northern Corridor would be a strong focus in coming years as the projects continued to be developed.
“We will be ramping up the activity on the SH1 Wellington Northern Corridor, with construction due to begin on the MacKays to Peka Peka section of the Kapiti Expressway, We’ll also be carrying out detailed design in the leadup to construction of Transmission Gully and the Peka Peka to Otaki section of the expressway.
“Construction is also due to start this year on the Wellington Memorial Park underpass and Inner City Bypass intersection improvements, while the Basin Reserve section will be moving through a full consenting process early next year, ahead of planned construction in 2014. “
The NZTA would also be focusing on improving traffic flow and safety along this corridor through improvements to the the Ngauranga to Aotea Quay section of State Highway 1, and the development of options for the duplication of the Mount Victoria and Terrace Tunnels.”
Ms Chetwynd says the NZTA will also be carrying out investigation and design work to link Petone to Grenada. This will include investigating improved connections between SH2 and SH58.
Ms Chetwynd says the package provides a balanced approach to keeping people and goods moving in and around the Capital.
“About 65% of the region’s workforce commutes to Wellington, and we need a transport system that can support this daily influx, however people choose to travel.”
“This is a record investment that will make getting around safer and easier for everyone, and will unlock economic benefits for the whole region.”
Ms Chetwynd says the improvements along the Wellington Northern Corridor will help to make the region more competitive by improving travel times making journeys more reliable, and improving the movement of freight to and from Centreport and the Airport.
“Freight is about much more than just trucks. Improving the productivity of freight has flow on benefits for the whole region and beyond - it makes local producers more competitive, it supports employment, and it efficiently gets our groceries from the farm to the distribution centre to the supermarket shelf.“
Ms Chetwynd says that public transport investment in Wellington is now at unprecedented levels. “Investing strongly in public transport in areas where we have significant congestion will make our buses and trains more reliable and more attractive, which in turn will provide relief from peak hour bottlenecks.”
Ms Chetwynd says NZTA investment is targeted at providing a safe and integrated transport system where investment in public transport and roading provided shared benefits towards reducing congestion.
“Improving public transport helps to relieve congestion pressure on our busiest roads, while improvements such as the Basin Reserve bridge will help to improve the efficiency and reliability of buses by lifting large amounts of traffic out of their way.”
Ms Chetwynd says rail also played a crucial role in the smooth operation of Wellington’s transport network, and as well as investing in the ongoing operation of rail services, the NZTA would be investing millions of dollars in the purchase of 35 new Matangi trains. The new trains will improve capacity, reliability and comfort for Wellingtonians, helping to encourage and accommodate passenger growth for years to come.
Ms Chetwynd says the package included benefits for pedestrians and cyclists, through the proposed progression of a safe and convenient cycleway linking Petone and Ngauranga, and the provision of a dedicated pathway on the Basin Reserve bridge.
“We appreciate that cycling is going from strength to strength in Wellington. Our priority is easing congestion by making walking and cycling more attractive on some of our busiest routes, and helping cyclists travel safely on these routes, particularly around the Basin Reserve and between Petone and Ngauranga.
Ms Chetwynd says safety remains a top priority, and that targeted investment would be focused on addressing high-risk sections of road to help bring down the region’s worrying road toll.
“While Wellington’s road toll has declined significantly in recent years, the number of people losing life and limb on our region’s roads is a real tragedy, and a big focus over the next few years is identifying where the risks are, what the root causes of these crashes are, and targeting these areas to turn this around.”
A number of roading improvements throughout the region were included in the package, such as the replacement of the Manawa Bridge near Masterton. Ms Chetwynd says the bridge replacement, which the NZTA was co-funding with Masterton District Council, would help to ensure a secure and resilient forestry and farming route, and improve journey times to schools and community facilities in both Tinui and Masterton. The SH53 Waihenga Bridge near Martinborough is also set to be improved to give it a new lease on life.
The investment in Wellington is part of a $12.28 billion investment in New Zealand’s land transport system set out in the 2012-15 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP), including $9.38 billion from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF). The NLTP is a partnership between local authorities (who invest funding from ratepayers and prioritise activities and projects for funding) and the NZTA (which develops the programme and invests NLTF funds collected from road users through vehicle registration fees and fuel taxes.
Ms Chetwynd says the 2012-15 NLTP follows the direction outlined in the Government Policy Statement on land transport funding (GPS), with a focus on creating transport solutions that will support economic growth, improve safety, provide people with a range of transport choices and deliver the best possible value for money.
Ms Chetwynd says that while the 2012-15 NLTP represents a significant investment in New Zealand’s transport system, with the country facing tight economic conditions, not all proposed activities could be funded.
The preparation of the 2012-15 NLTP has been informed by 16 regional transport committees and Auckland Transport developing and submitting regional land transport programmes outlining activities to be prioritised for NLTP funding.
“We’ve been working closely with local and regional councils to ensure that funding is carefully targeted to the areas and the activities where it is needed the most and where it will deliver the best outcomes for the greatest number of people in the region,” Ms Chetwynd says.
National and regional NLTP documents, Q&As and other information is available on the NZTA website at www.nzta.govt.nz/nltp(external link).