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Whanganui River Road to promote development

1 July 2004

Whanganui River Road development to promote development

Minister for Regional Development, Jim Anderton, today welcomed Transfund's decision to place the long sought-after proposal to strengthen and seal the Whanganui River Road onto its road construction priority list.

"The decision is very positive news for everyone interested in promoting the further economic development of the Wanganui region, including the expansion of its unique tourism potential," Jim Anderton said.

"It is a victory for those at the coalface, the Wanganui District Council and local iwi and hapu, who had the foresight, time and patience to put together and then articulate a sound business case which has now secured the backing of the operationally-independent Transfund board," the Progressive leader said.

"Over the past few years I have encouraged, and been encouraged by, the vision and commitment to Wanganui's economic and social development shown by its local leaders. There is no doubt in my mind that this project is vital to underpinning the creation of new job opportunities for local people in their own region," Jim Anderton said.

"The Wanganui District Council and local iwi requested Transfund funding to upgrade the Whanganui River Road and Pipiriki Road because they knew that upgrading the roading system was essential to improve both the safety of the road as well as to unleash significant economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits the region has to offer," Jim Anderton said.

Background:

The Whanganui River Road and the Pipiriki Road essentially form two ends of the same road. Both the roads currently have significant lengths of narrow, unsealed and therefore dangerous carriageway.

Interest to upgrade the road has been strong at least since the 1950s. Transfund last night said it had put the Whanganui River Road on its indicative priority list with a commitment of $4.68 million of funding provided funding requirements are met.

Administered by Transfund through the National Land Transport Programme, $1.42 billion of government money will be spent on integrated transport across New Zealand over the next year.

This allocation represents an increase of 20 per cent over the previous year, and is over 50 per cent more than actual NLTP spending by the last National government in the year 1999-2000.

The Labour Progressive government started to address years of neglect of the transport sector with the New Zealand Transport Strategy in December 2002 and through the Land Transport Management Act last year.

Earlier this month, changes were announced to the government transport sector to focus it towards delivering on the vision of the NZTS to give New Zealand the affordable, integrated, safe, responsive and sustainable transport system it deserves by 2010.

ENDS


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