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Regional Land And Public Transport Plans Open For Submissions

Marlborough’s roading and public transport priorities for the next six years are now open for public comment.

The ‘Connecting Te Tauihu (Top of the South)’ Regional Land Transport Plan 2021-2027 (RLTP) and Marlborough Regional Public Transport Plan 2021-2027 (MRPTP) have just been released. These are the guiding documents that will shape road and public transport priorities for Marlborough and Nelson/Tasman for the next six years.

Submissions open today and close on 19 March. Hearings will be held on 15 April.

Chairman of the Marlborough Regional Transport Committee, Councillor Francis Maher, said the RLTP was an important document which underpinned the region’s road and transport planning and confirmed investment priorities on both the state highway and local roads. It is a collaboration between Marlborough District Council, Nelson City Council and Tasman District Council and is required under the Land Transport Management Act 2008 (LTMA).

“Our three councils have created a joint RLTP, in conjunction with Waka Kotahi (New Zealand Transport Agency), which recognises the strong connection and unique conditions we have here at the top of the south,” he said. It also draws on the work of the South Island Regional Transport Committee.

“We are competing against other regions nationally for a share of the funds available and the collective process of ranking our regional projects using Waka Kotahi’s methodology gives them additional context to inform the decision making,” said Clr Maher.

The Interisland Resilient Connection (iREX) Project to upgrade the interisland ferries, and the construction of an overbridge required in Dublin Street Picton as a result, has come out top of the list of significant regional projects in the RLTP. This is expected to cost $17m.

“This project has the highest priority, a ranking ratified by all three councils. The iREX project is of national significance and will have an impact not only on roading at the top of the south but all of New Zealand,” said Clr Maher.

The ‘improvement projects’ are the highest cost projects for the top of the south (Te Tauihu) for the next 3 years and represent the highest priorities for the region. Other significant improvement projects ($2m and over) that have made the priority list from Marlborough are:

  • SH1 Inland Alternative Route Maruia to Renwick – to ensure speeds are safe and appropriate - total cost $5.1m – ranked number five;
  • SH6 Nelson to Blenheim – to ensure speeds are safe and appropriate - $2.2m – ranked number 10;
  • SH6 Blenheim to Nelson - safety interventions - $5m; ranked number 13
  • SH1 Blenheim to Seddon - safety management - $3m - ranked number 14

Weld Pass, included in the 2018 RLTP as a safety project due to the high crash rate and to improve the network performance particularly for freight, is presently on hold. “The RLTP states, however, that without these improvements, the freight route between the North Island and Christchurch is compromised. We will continue to push for this in the longer term,” said Clr Maher.

The majority of freight moved around Te Tauihu is by road. State Highway 1 from Picton south is a nationally significant freight route. Five million tonnes of freight with an estimated value of $20 billion crosses Cook Strait annually. More freight goes from north to south than south to north, reflecting the importance of the Cook Strait ferries to the South Island economy. Cook Strait freight is forecast to grow by 35% over the next 20 years.

Clr Maher said the RLTP recognised that Te Tauihu’s existing transport network may not be fit for purpose for the future. The RLTP identifies the key transport issues for the next 10 years as:

  • vehicle usage growth and its effects on access
  • safety on roads
  • the design of the transport system limiting those wanting to use more sustainable options
  • communities being susceptible to losing access in more frequent weather events
  • the effect of vehicles on the natural environment

“The vision of this RLTP is to have a safe and connected region that is liveable, accessible and sustainable,” said Clr Maher. “The next three years are likely to be tight for funding so we will be focussed on maintaining and maximising the current network to cope with more people with an eye to sustainable transport.”

“We also want to see an increase in the use of public transport and more choice in the ways people can travel, so we can reduce our reliance and change our preference for travelling by car, often on our own,” he said.

Vehicle kilometres travelled within Te Tauihu increased from 1.19 million km in 2001 to 1.70 million km in 2018, an increase of 43 percent. During the same time population increased by 23 percent, showing that the average person is travelling more.

The RLTP also acknowledges that Te Tauihu has a significantly higher proportion of cyclists than the New Zealand average. In Marlborough 3.6% of the population cycle to work versus 2.2% nationally. All three Councils have a strategy to increase the uptake of walking and cycling.

The Marlborough Regional Public Transport Plan (MRPTP) is a stand-alone document which sits within the wider RLTP. It is required under the Land Transport Management Act 2003, and Land Transport Management Act Amendment Act 2013 (LTMA).

“The MRPTP sets out our Council’s intentions and policies regarding public transport in Marlborough,” said Sustainable Transport Manager Braden Prideaux.

It proposes a continuation of the Blenheim bus services (North and South routes), as well as continued support of the Supergold scheme that provides those with a Supergold card ability to travel for free during off-peak hours (9am – 3pm) on Council bus services. “It also suggests a continuation of the Total Mobility Scheme, assisting people with a permanent disability or impairment to access appropriate transport to enhance their community participation,” he said.

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