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Congestion Transfund's focus for Bay of Plenty

Congestion Transfund's focus for Bay of Plenty

Reducing congestion is the focus for Bay of Plenty in Transfund's National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) for the coming year.

Transfund New Zealand today announced it has allocated $67.76 million for investment in Bay of Plenty's land transport network in the 2004/05 NLTP. This comprises:

* road maintenance for state highways and local roads ($35.53 million)

* state highway and local road construction projects ($29.26 million)

* passenger transport services ($2.21 million)

* promotion of walking and cycling ($0.30 million)

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

A proportion of Bay of Plenty's funding is committed to projects including construction of a roundabout at the intersection of State Highway 2 and Domain Road in Tauranga to improve safety and reduce congestion, safety improvements on SH2 from Maungatapu to Te Maunga in Tauranga, construction of the Hewletts Road flyover on SH29 to improve safety and reduce congestion and the four-laning of Old Taupo Road on SH5 to reduce congestion.

Other projects which may be funded during the year include the realignment of the Mangaorewa Gorge hairpin on Pyes Pa Road, implementation of an automated traffic signal control system in Tauranga to co-ordinate the city's 17 signalled intersections and a contribution towards the Pyes Pa bypass, she says.

Other smaller state highway projects that may begin during the year include safety improvements on SH29 at the Hairini/Welcome Bay intersection in Tauranga, realignment of a section of SH5 known as the Gasline Curves in Rotorua and the widening of SH36 from Hamurana to Te Waerenga Road.

Dr Wright says passenger transport funding for Bay of Plenty has more than doubled with the region receiving $2.21 million for passenger transport services in 2004/05.

Environment Bay of Plenty plans to increase the frequency of bus services in Rotorua to every half hour, with major restructuring of routes to provide more direct services. Further improvements are planned in Tauranga where patronage has increased some 400 percent over the last four years.

The regional council is also investigating opportunities for increased bus services in the Western Bay of Plenty between Tauranga and outlying settlements. Trial services may be introduced during 2004/05.

Under the travel demand management, rail and barging (alternatives to roading) activity class, Transfund has received an indicative bid for the funding of barging from Te Kaha, on East Cape, to the Tauranga port.

And under the promotion of walking and cycling activity class, Transfund has received funding requests for the investigation of the Turret Road to Hairini cycleway along SH2 and the widening of the Mangapiko Bridge footpath on SH5. Other projects include the update and promotion of the Taupo cycling strategy and design of a cycleway from Whakatane to Ohope.

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