The NZ Transport Agency is welcoming today's announcement of additional Crown funding to bring forward the design and construction of additional passing opportunities on SH2 between Napier and Gisborne in order to improve journey times and efficiency on this key inter-regional freight route.
NZTA Regional Director Jenny Chetwynd says the Government's decision to commit $4m in additional Crown funding would allow work to begin this year on a series of passing opportunities, on top of a strong programme of safety works already planned for the next three years as part of a $9-$10 million investment through the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) to maintain and improve the condition of SH2 in the region.
Ms Chetwynd said this section of State Highway 2 already has a good safety record and previous investments have ensured that it provides the capacity and ability to cope with current and future demands. The additional investment planned for the next few years would provide a further and welcome boost to this critical route between Napier and Gisborne.
Ms Chetwynd says the agency is strongly committed to ensuring the ongoing performance, resilience and safety of this route for both current and forecast freight volumes, and the region could be confident that planned investment in State Highway 2 would ensure that it remains up to the task of handling current and future freight volumes.
“We appreciate that freight helps keep the grass-roots economies of Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay humming, and we are focused on supporting economic productivity through a solid, secure and safe highway network. We welcome the government’s decision to invest up to $4 million on top of what’s already available through the National Land Transport Programme, and this investment, along with work recently undertaken and planned, will make journeys safer and easier for road users in the region,” says Ms Chetwynd.
The National Land Transport Programme has recently allocated $9 to $10 million over the next three years to improve the condition of the road and maintain State Highway 2 to modern highway standards. This investment will be targeted at the sections where most improvement is needed.
Ms Chetwynd says the additional passing opportunities will allow freight to move through the region more safety and more efficiently, boosting road safety and enabling economic growth.
Ms Chetwynd said while the additional road traffic generated by mothballing the rail line was not expected to have a significant impact on the state highway, the additional investment in passing opportunities would make a real difference to safety and economic productivity in the region given the high levels of road freight that already use the highway.
Ms Chetwynd says the NZTA will also increase its monitoring of the highway to ensure that the agency remains responsive to the condition of State Highway 2 and the demands freight places on it. The NZTA also recognises concerns over the condition of the highway network following a wet winter.
“Weather-related damage has always been, and will always be, a challenge in this part of the country, regardless of the level of investment. Over spring and summer, extensive repairs and restoration will be underway to ensure the network continues to provide levels of service to meet current needs.”
"State Highway 2 faces numerous challenges due to its difficult terrain and climate, but it has a strong track record as a reliable freight link. Between 2002 and 2012, road closures for longer than 10 hours have occurred, on average, once per year.”
Ms Chetwynd says investment in the state highway network has been at unprecedented levels in recent years, including the Matahorua Gorge realignment project in 2011. The $24m 3.1km realignment reduces journey times and improves safety for 1,800 to 2,000 vehicles a day, bypassing a notorious stretch of highway which was vulnerable and caused numerous difficulties for trucks.
The NZTA is also currently carrying out a study of the resilience of this route, which aims to inform a long-term approach for ensuring the route security of State Highway 2 as a crucial inter-regional freight lifeline.