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Transit to consult on draft Waikato SH plan

31 January 2005

Waikato Regional Office

MEDIA RELEASE

Transit to consult on draft Waikato state highway plan

Transit New Zealand today released its Waikato region draft 2005/06 – 2014/15 10-year State Highway Plan for consultation.

Transit is inviting submissions on the draft plan from all interested parties and the general public. Submissions will close on 16 March and the final plan will be issued at the same time as the Land Transport New Zealand funding allocations for 2005/06 are announced at the end of June.

Transit’s Waikato regional manager Chris Allen said that Transit has assigned priorities to projects and activities in line with the requirements of the Land Transport Management Act 2003 to ensure a safe, integrated, responsive and sustainable state highway network.

The programme had been built around national indicative funding forecasts from Land Transport New Zealand and an estimated share of 65 percent of Waikato “regional distribution funding” going to state highways. (Regional distribution funding is the additional funds for each region from the proposed increase in petrol tax from April 2005.)

“We have tried to ensure that where possible state highway activities are integrated with local roads, public transport and existing or planned cycling and walking facilities.”

“Significant work is already underway on the Waikato Expressway between Mercer and Rangiriri with bypasses of Ngaruawahia and Cambridge planned later in the 10 year plan.

“The State Highway 2 Mangatawiri Deviation safety project will start in 2005/06 while the Maramarua Deviation will continue to be developed with a start also planned in the 10 year timeframe. Other complementary safety work on the rest of the highway in this area will also be carried out in 2005/06.

“Also included in the draft plan are the continued development and construction of major projects north of Hamilton City, the Kopu Bridge and the Eastern Taupo Arterial.

“Some of the major transportation projects had been reviewed after initial development work and the costs have increased from those expected. This has meant that the Waikato projects cannot be advanced as quickly as thought in the last 10 year plan, but the region could still advance some of these if they wished when the regionally distributed funding becomes available,” he said.

In addition to the major state highway projects planned over the 10-year period the draft plan also sets out a three-year plan for smaller projects – those costing less than $3 million. Examples of these include passing lanes, intersection improvements in Hamilton City, rural safety realignments and the upgrading of three bridges in the Coromandel Peninsula as part of a flood protection package. The draft plan also spells out Transit’s priorities for maintenance and operations such as road information systems, seismic protection of at-risk bridges and the removal of hazardous obstacles from the roadside. Submissions are also invited on these.

There will be a focus on travel demand management and how it can be incorporated into the total Waikato transport scene.

“The final shape of the State Highway Plan for Waikato for 05/06 and beyond now depends upon the response to this draft plan. We look forward to receiving submissions,” said Mr Allen.

Background information

This is the first year under the Land Transport Management Act 2003 in which Transit must consult more widely than in the past on its state highway plan. Transit has always consulted with local authorities, other government transport agencies and other key organisations such as Police, New Zealand Automobile Association, the RTF (Road Transport Forum), the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and DoC, but this year it is aiming to attract feedback from affected communities, Maori and the general public. Under the Act Transit must also now consult with ACC and the Ministry of Health,

Written submissions will be accepted up to 16 March 2005 and submitters, if they wish, have the opportunity to present their information to a hearing panel during March and April. Submission forms are in each brochure and are available at the sites below.

Copies of the full plan covering the whole of New Zealand will be available to view at libraries and local council offices, and information sheets with a submission form on the Waikato region plan is also available at the same outlets to take away. The regional material and the national plan is also available on Transit’s website: www.transit.govt.nz

ENDS

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