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Traffic growth Transfund's focus for Nelson...

Safety and catering for regional traffic growth Transfund's focus for Nelson, Marlborough and Tasman

Road safety and catering for regional traffic growth is the focus for Nelson, Marlborough and Tasman in Transfund New Zealand's National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) for the coming year.

Transfund today announced it has allocated $1.42 billion to transport in New Zealand and, of this, $30.65 million has been allocated for investment in Nelson, Marlborough and Tasman's land transport network in the 2004/05 NLTP. This comprises:

* road maintenance for state highways and local roads ($22.16 million)

* state highway and local road construction projects ($8.05 million)

* passenger transport services ($0.20 million).

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

A proportion of the region's allocation is committed funding for projects including design of a replacement Awatere Bridge on State Highway 1, replacement of Owen River Bridge on SH6 and continuation of investigation into improvements to the SH6 intersection with McGlashen Avenue in Richmond, Tasman.

Other projects which may be funded during the year include five seal extensions for roads in Marlborough and Tasman, a CBD transport study for Nelson City Council, replacements for Aorere Valley Bridge and Cook's Creek Bridge in Tasman and construction of the Awatere Bridge on SH1 in Marlborough, Dr Wright says.

Other smaller state highway projects that may begin during the year include improvements to the McGlashen Avenue/SH6 intersection and installation of a median barrier on Whakatu Drive, also on SH6.

Dr Wright says passenger transport funding increased by 47 percent with $200,200 being allocated to the region for 2004/05. This funding includes Transfund's ongoing commitment to bus services and support for the total mobility scheme.

Under the travel demand management, rail and barging activity class, Transfund has received indicative bids for possible log barging operations in Marlborough.

And under the promotion of walking and cycling activity class, Transfund has received funding requests for a cycle strategy for Marlborough District Council and a cycleway on Salisbury Road in Tasman.

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.

She says 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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