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Submissions wanted on draft Taranaki SH plan

Wanganui Regional Office
Media Release

31 January 2005

Submissions wanted on draft state highway plan

Transit New Zealand today released its Taranaki 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 Wanganui regional manager Errol Christiansen said Transit had 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.

“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.”

The programme has been built around national indicative funding forecasts from Land Transport New Zealand and an estimated share of 80 percent of Taranaki “regional distribution funding” (the extra funding for land transport from the proposed increase in tax on petrol) going to state highways. The final share of regional distribution funding allocated to state highways will depend on the land transport priorities set by the region.

Mr Christansen said the activities in the draft plan addressed the key transport issues in the region - road safety, route security, particularly on the route north out of the region, and tourist traffic on SH43 the Forgotten World Highway.

“Transit’s top priorities in Taranaki are still the Bell Block Bypass and the Mangaone Hill 4-Laning, adjacent projects scheduled for a construction start in 2005/06.

“The projects had been programmed for a construction start in 2004/05. Currently we are still on track in terms of planning and development and there’s a good chance the project will get underway soon. But because funding is not yet committed we have put it into the draft 05/06 plan, as we have with a number of other projects in similar situations, to make sure it doesn’t get lost in the mix.”

Other significant projects currently sitting within the draft plan include the SH3 Rugby Road Underpass, programmed for a construction start in 2008/09, and the Tangarakau Gorge Seal Extension on SH43, which has an indicative start date of 2012/13.

“As well as these major projects, which are planned over 10 years, the plan includes a number of small and medium-sized projects planned over three years. Proposed projects in this category include six passing lanes on SH3 north of New Plymouth (with an additional five proposed in the Waikato draft plan) bridge replacements, intersection improvements and rural realignments on SH3 and a bridge widening on SH45. But the number of projects that will proceed is dependent on the extent of regional distribution funding,” Mr Christiansen said.

The draft plan also sets out Transit’s priorities for maintenance, which accounts for about half of Transit’s budget nationwide.

“Carefully targeting maintenance activities to the specific needs of the region is key to ensuring current and future levels of service are maintained. The strategic significance of reliable state highway access to Taranaki is an important feature in the planning for Transit’s maintenance and preventative works programmes. Key aspects of the maintenance plan are resealing 80 kilometres of state highway in 2005/05 and improving road condition information at critical locations within the network,” he said.

With the significant annual growth in heavy vehicles (6.9 percent compared to 3.5 per cent for all traffic) and the subsequent wear on the highways, plus increased costs in the construction and maintenance sector, an additional $20 million a year nationally over the 10 years has been provided for maintenance.

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

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 key organisations such as Police, Automobile Association, the Road Transport Forum, the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and DoC, but this year it is aiming to attract feedback from land transport providers, 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 information sheet 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 Taranaki 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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