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Safety congestion Transfund's focus for Canterbury

Safety and congestion Transfund's focus for Canterbury

Road safety and reducing congestion is the focus for Canterbury in Transfund New Zealand's National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) for the coming year.

Transfund today announced it has allocated $93.39 million for investment in Canterbury's land transport network in the 2004/05 NLTP. This comprises:

* road maintenance for state highways and local roads ($54.05 million)

* state highway and local road construction projects ($28.21 million)

* passenger transport services ($10.25 million).

Transfund chair Dr Jan Wright says the money allocated to the region is likely to increase during the year should Canterbury'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 the Normanby realignment on State Highway 1, the four-laning of SH74 Main North Road in Christchurch and major improvements to the Clandeboye dairy factory access routes near Temuka, in the Timaru district.

Projects already approved for funding include the replacement of Davis Road Bridge in Selwyn and the Glen Tui Bridge in Waimakariri, improvements to the smoothness of a number of roads in Christchurch and improvements to the intersection of Oxford Road and Swannanoa Road in Waimakariri.

Other projects which may be funded during the year include completion of the southern link in Rangiora's road network, improvements to the Avonside Drive/Fitzgerald Avenue intersection in Christchurch and design work for the Christchurch Southern Motorway extension, Dr Wright says.

Other smaller state highway projects that may begin during the year include eight passing lanes on SH1 and improvements to Hell's Gate Curve on SH7.

Dr Wright says passenger transport funding increased by 27 percent with $10.25 million 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.

There have been further improvements to facilities and services in Christchurch as a result of the patronage funding scheme. Real-time information signage continues to be rolled out to many bus stops in Christchurch and the introduction of Smart Cards has improved ticketing systems.

Under the travel demand management, rail and barging activity class, Transfund has received an indicative bid for further work into the evaluation of a proposed rail link to Clandeboye dairy factory and Environment Canterbury and Christchurch City Council have put in indicative bids for the funding of travel demand management plans.

And under the promotion of walking and cycling activity class, Transfund has received funding requests for a number of walking and cycling projects in Christchurch, including the construction of the Cashmere cycleway and improving cycling and pedestrian facilities near several schools.

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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