The NZ Transport Agency has today announced a package of transport investment to boost economic growth, tourism and safety throughout the top of the South Island including $175m on the upkeep of roads and significant investments in improving the transport of freight.
NZTA Regional Director Central Jenny Chetwynd says today’s announcement of the National Land Transport Plan for 2012-15 includes an unprecedented investment of $175m for the day to day upkeep of the roading network throughout Tasman, Nelson and Marlborough over the next three years,
The package also includes considerable investment in improving freight through the provision of HPMV routes in Marlborough and Nelson, including the connection between Blenheim to Richmond. This will involve the strengthening of a number of bridges to enable them to carry larger, more productive vehicles.
“Beefing up these routes to cater for larger, more productive vehicles will result in money, fuel and time saved, and safety gains from fewer journeys.
“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 the package includes full allocation of regional funds for Nelson and Marlborough.
“We’ve got a big package of work planned for Nelson using $21.7m of regional funds. These funds will be invested in an HMPV route connecting Richmond to Blenheim, improved safety and traffic flow along Waimea Road, safety improvements to State Highway 6, a new stock effluent facility, better walking and cycling facilities, and a suite of safety improvements on SH6 and local roads.”
“In Marlborough, $7.4m of regional funds will provide for further HMPV capacity improvements, especially on Northbank Road, and the replacement of the Dashwood overbridge on State Highway 1 to improve its safety, width and seismic capability.”
Ms Chetwynd says the replacement of the Dashwood overbridge and the straightening of its approaches would mark a significant improvement in safety on this difficult stretch of road, while also improving travel times and reducing the likelihood of disruptions and closures on State Highway 1.
Ms Chetwynd says the NZTA’s key focus in the fast-growing Tasman region is keeping communities connected and keeping roads secure and resilient for freight and tourism.
“After the storms of last December, and the disruption experienced at Totaranui and Bird’s Hill, it’s crucial that we keep the local roading network open for business. Freight and tourism is the lifeblood of the region and we need to ensure that our roads are safe, resilient and built to spur along economic growth in these sectors.”
Ms Chetwynd says investment will be focused on maintaining the roads to achieve this resilience, and also to improve safety for travellers.
Ms Chetwynd says the investment package would also improve facilities for walking and cycling in Nelson.
“We recognise that people in Nelson really like to get out and about, and cycling is going from strength to strength. We want to improve safety and access for recreational and active travel. This will make it safer and easier to get to and from school, and help to encourage people to get out of their cars and onto the pedals, and also foster cycle tourism.”
Ms Chetwynd says safety is also 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.
“The number of people losing life on our region’s roads is a real ongoing 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, while also investing more in day to day road maintenance than ever before.”
The investment in Tasman/Nelson/Marlborough 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.
“We’ve been working closely with local 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.
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.
Ms Chetwynd says the NZTA will continue working closely with Tasman District Council, Nelson City Council and Marlborough District Council as the NLTP is implemented over the next three years.
National and regional NLTP documents, Q&As and other information is available on the NZTA website at www.nzta.govt.nz/nltp(external link)