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Transit consulting on draft SH Plan for West Coast

Christchurch Regional Office
Media Release

31 January 2005

Transit consulting on draft SH Plan for West Coast

Transit New Zealand today released its West Coast 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 2005 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 regional manager Colin Knaggs said 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 has been built around national indicative funding forecasts from Land Transport New Zealand and an estimated share of 50 percent of West Coast “regional distribution funding” (the extra funding for land transport from the proposed increase in tax on petrol) going to state highways.

“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,” he said.

“In the West Coast region the significant state highway issues are secure and efficient transport corridors to the east, west and south; road safety, particularly the potential conflict of heavy and light traffic; and the increasing traffic demands associated with coal mining and the dairy and tourist industries.

“The state highway network is the essential backbone for land transport on the West Coast, and significant improvements to SH73 over the last few years have greatly improved route security on this strategic link. Traffic volumes on the West Coast are generally quite low, and the state highway network is maintained to a high standard for low-volume highways.

“This means that major improvements are difficult to justify, but there is one large project planned for a possible construction start in 2009/10 – the development and construction of the Gates of Haast Bridge,” Mr Knaggs said.

Improving road safety continues to be an important aspect of Transit’s work on the West Coast, and several of the small and medium-sized projects that could proceed within the next three years are focussed on removing ‘out-of-context’ sections of highway. These projects include the Spring Creek Curve Realignment and McKendries Corner Curve Improvements on SH7 and replacing the Goat Creek Bridge on SH73.

As well as planning the large activities (cost greater than $3M) over 10 years and small and medium-sized activities over three years, the draft plan also spells out Transit’s priorities for maintenance and operations.

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.

“Carefully targeting maintenance activities to the specific needs of the region is key to ensuring current and future levels of service are maintained. A specific activity to receive more attention in the coming years is winter maintenance activities, including continuing to trial the use of the de-icing agent CMA (calcium magnesium acetate), introducing thermal mapping of the inland network to better predict where icing will occur, and more road weather stations to improve road condition predictions and maintenance team responses to ice and snow. Variable message signs will improve road condition information at critical points,” said Mr Knaggs.

Other maintenance activities would include continuing to work on a risk analysis of rock falls and river erosion and prioritising these works as threats to safety and route security occur, implementing risk reduction works on bridges throughout the network to make them less vulnerable in severe earthquakes, and working with the department of Conservation to ensure maintenance works within national parks represent international best practice.

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

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 West Coast 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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