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Bridge programme opens up productive potential

Bridge programme opens up productive potential

Council road contractors have completed pouring the deck on the new Waitewhena rail over bridge north of Ohura that is due to reopen to traffic in early July.

The new $500,000 bridge is part of council’s wider economic development programme aimed at opening up the productive potential of Ruapehu’s primary producers, forestry and tourism sectors.

Ruapehu Land Transport and Economic Development Manager Warren Furner said investment in land transport has long been council’s biggest expenditure item as we recognize that enabling our communities to capitalize on their potential is dependent on having access to an efficient, effective and safe road network.

“The new Waitewhena rail over bridge is one four major bridge projects along with a large culvert replacement on the Whangaehu Valley Rd that council would like to see completed by the end of this coming summer (2017-18),” he said.
“The other bridge projects on the drawing board are the Mangateitei Rail over bridge near Ohakune, the Mangaparoa Rail over bridge near Ohura, and the Poro-o-Tarao bridge just past Waimiha that required repairs in February following damage from heavy vehicles.”
Mr. Furner said that a recent NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) Investment Audit (June 2017) identified that Ruapehu communities were investing what they could afford into their road network but that the local affordable contribution level was under what was necessary to maintain the network in a good condition.

“In the past council has successfully argued that Ruapehu needed to have our Funding Assistance Rate (FAR), which determines the subsidy level we receive on any particular type of road works, set at the highest possible level if we are to maximise our contribution to the government’s growth agenda.”

“The 2014 NZTA review of FAR subsidies saw Ruapehu’s FAR set at 63% then rising by 1% per annum until it reaches the maximum FAR of 72% in 2023-24.”

“The FAR review also proposed to transition the Ohakune Mountain Rd and Bruce Rd at Whakapapa from FAR subsidies of 100% to local road FAR subsidies of 72%.”

“Responding to the Investment Audit council has now written to the NZTA requesting that the gradual 1% per annum transition to the 72% FAR subsidy be brought forward to start from next year (2018), and that the Ohakune Mountain Rd and Bruce Rd at Whakapapa retain their 100% subsidy.”
Mr. Furner said that implementing the FAR changes requested would allow council to increase our investment in the road network by $1.7m per annum and get on top of outstanding repair and maintenance issues while addressing ratepayer affordability concerns.

“A positive response from NZTA would help highlight the importance of economic growth in their investment decision thinking while helping ensure Ruapehu is not unduly hampered in our ability to fully participate in our contribution to national economic growth targets,” he said.

*End*

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