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Canterbury draft SH Plan released for comment

Christchurch Regional Office
Media Release
31 January 2005

Canterbury draft SH Plan released for comment

Transit New Zealand today released its Canterbury 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 Christchurch regional manager Colin Knaggs 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 50 percent of Canterbury “regional distribution funding” (the extra funding for land transport from the proposed increase in tax on petrol) being allocated to state highways.

Mr Knaggs said the projects in the draft plan would build on the momentum created by the two major construction projects already underway on State Highway 1 in the region – stage two of the four-laning of Main North Road and the Normanby Realignment.

“The draft features a number of large projects, many of which were previously outside the 10-year plan. Although the plan is still a draft at this stage, the indication is that with the help of some regional distribution funding, Transit will be able to make good progress on these significant projects, many of which will contribute to easing congestion on the main arterial routes within Christchurch City.”

Easing congestion on those arterial routes and improving road safety and passing opportunities on highways with higher traffic volumes are the key issues the draft plan aims to address. In line with this, Transit’s number one priority for the region is the investigation and implementation of Travel Demand Management activities on various state highways within Christchurch.

“Managing demand must go hand in hand with physical improvements to the network to increase capacity if attempts to ease congestion in the city are to be successful.

“Another pleasing feature of the draft plan is the earlier indicative construction start date for the Christchurch Southern Motorway Extension. In the 2004/05-2013/14 plan it was planned for construction in 2010/11. In this year’s draft it is planned for a construction start in 2008/09, but could be advanced further depending on how regional distribution funding is allocated,” Mr Knaggs said.

As well as the large activities (costing more than $3M), which are planned over 10 years, the plan also sets out small and medium-sized activities planned for the next three years and the proposed focus for Transit’s maintenance activities for the 10-year period.

“A number of the small and medium-sized activities in this draft are aimed at addressing congestion, and include bus priority lanes and signalisation and other improvement projects at a number of major intersections.

“The focus for highways outside of central Christchurch will be improving road safety. The projects that might proceed, depending on funding levels, include the Handyside to Waterfall Guardrail on SH7, improvements at the Pound Road Intersection on SH73 near Yaldhurst and the Saltwater Creek Realignment on SH1 north of Woodend.

“Several sites for passing lanes have been identified on SH1 north and south of Christchurch, where there has been significant growth in heavy vehicle traffic volumes, and on SH73 between Yaldhurst and Christchurch. We expect construction would start on a number of them within the next three years, with the remainder likely to be dependent on the extent of regional distribution funding state highways in the region receive,” Mr Knaggs said.

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. As well as continuing to trial the use of the de-icing agent CMA (calcium magnesium acetate), Transit proposes to introduce thermal mapping of the inland network to better predict where icing will occur, and introduce more road weather stations to improve road condition predictions and maintenance team responses to ice and snow.

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.

Mr Knaggs said it was important to remember that the plan is it stands is a draft, and its final format would be shaped by the submissions Transit received.

“We look forward to getting feedback on what interested parties and members of the community think of the plan.”

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 Canterbury 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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