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Reducing congestion Transfund's focus for Wgtn

Reducing congestion Transfund's focus for Wellington

Reducing Wellington's severe congestion continues to be a focus for Transfund New Zealand in the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) for the coming year.

Transfund today announced it has allocated $104.79 million for investment in Wellington's land transport network. This comprises:

* road maintenance for state highways and local roads ($40.79 million)

* state highway and local road construction projects ($35.78 million)

* passenger transport services ($25.76 million)

* promotion of walking and cycling ($0.29 million)

Transfund chair Dr Jan Wright says the money allocated to the region is likely to increase during the year should Wellington's local authorities and Transit New Zealand make applications for funding transport activities meeting Transfund's requirements.

A large proportion of Wellington's allocation is committed funding for projects on the Hutt and Kapiti roading corridors, including construction of the Plimmerton to Mana improvements, design and construction of the Mackay's Crossing overbridge, and construction of the inner city bypass on SH1 and the Kaitoke to Te Marua upgrade on SH2, north of Upper Hutt.

Already approved projects include three seal extensions in South Wairarapa, while other projects which may be funded during the year include design and land purchase for the Western Link Road in Kapiti, seismic strengthening of the Silverstream Bridge in Upper Hutt, construction of the Muldoon's Corner realigment of the Rimutaka Hill Road on SH2, improvements to the Dowse Drive to Petone section of SH2, and design and construction of the extension to Mark Ave linking Granada to the Churton Park interchange on SH1, Dr Wright says.

Other smaller state highway projects that may begin during the year include replacement of Waiohine Bridge on SH2 between Greytown and Carterton, installation of traffic signals at Kent Terrace pedestrian crossing near the Basin Reserve in Wellington and a street lighting upgrade on SH2 between Petone and Ngauranga.

Dr Wright says passenger transport funding increases by $2.29 million, with $25.76 million being allocated to Wellington for 2004/05. This funding includes Transfund's ongoing commitment to bus, ferry and passenger rail services, and support for the total mobility scheme.

Under the travel demand management, rail and barging (alternatives to roading) activity class, Transfund has received indicative bids for the refurbishment of the English Electric passenger rail rolling stock, bids to upgrade railway stations throughout the region, funding of rail cartage of logs from Wairarapa and Rangitikei to Centreport in Wellington and electrification of the North Island main trunk rail line from Paraparaumu to Waikanae.

And under the promotion of walking and cycling activity class, Transfund has received funding requests for walking and cycling promotion and facilities for Kapiti Coast District Council, Hutt City Council, Masterton District Council, Porirua City Council and Wellington City Council.

Also being released with the NLTP is Transfund's 10 year financial forecast, Dr Wright says.

This forecast shows a significant increase in funding for the transport sector over the next 10 years, and includes the extra funding announced by the government last December which will be available from April 2005.

This funding will be distributed to regions on a population basis but has not yet been allocated through the NLTP as policy has not yet been finalised. "This extra funding, which is a huge increase for transport in New Zealand, will accrue to each region.

Authorities will need to plan in advance so they can take advantage of this window of opportunity," Dr Wright says.

"This will require the sector to step up to a new level of activity. There are already signs this is happening with funding commitments for 2004/05 and beyond totalling more than $1 billion, a significant increase on the level a year ago."

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