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Massive boost for Waikato's transport projects

Hon Dr Michael Cullen
Minister of Finance
Acting Minister of Transport

19 May 2006 Media Statement
EMBARGOED UNTIL 2PM

Massive boost for Waikato's transport projects

The government is tackling the Waikato region's critical transport needs with a $215 million funding package over ten years.

"This massive funding boost, starting next year, is on top of funds already allocated for the Waikato region. It emphasises the Labour-led government’s dedication to improving New Zealand’s land transport system and continuing our economic transformation.

"The Waikato region is a key part of New Zealand's transport infrastructure and it is essential it has efficient and safe transport links. It has 16 per cent of the country's state highway network, 20 per cent of commercial freight, and is one of the fastest growing commercial centres along with Auckland and Tauranga," Finance Minister and Acting Transport Minister Dr Michael Cullen said today.

The funding package is in addition to the extra $1.3 billion the government announced yesterday in Budget 2006 for land transport nationwide over the next five years.

"These investments bring the government's total land transport spending to $13.4 billion over the next five years and guarantees New Zealand's largest ever road construction programme," Dr Cullen said.

“The $215 million funding is a result of recommendations by the Waikato Joint Officials’ Group (JOG). The Waikato JOG, comprising public sector and local government representatives, was established in August 2005 to advise on the need for additional funding to improve land transport.

“The JOG reported that the key issues facing the Waikato region are safety, particularly on rural State Highways, long-haul inter-regional arterial performance, urban mobility and rural access.”

Dr Cullen said this funding would address those issues through investment in strategic roading, rail, public transport, transport demand management, walking and cycling. Priorities identified include:

- State Highway safety spending

- Local road safety improvements

- State Highway improvements to enhance long-haul arterial performance

- Rail improvements to increase rail freight capacity and connections

- Improved access and mobility (walk, cycle, public transport and transport demand management).

"I expect a key deliverable will be the advancement of State Highway One, Ngaruawahia Bypass (Waikato Expressway)," said Dr Cullen.

The final list of projects and timing will be subject to further consultation with the Waikato region. Precise funding allocations will be decided by Land Transport New Zealand.

ENDS

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