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Heartening Signals For Local Road Recovery

Hawke’s Bay leaders say they’ve received heartening information on the Budget 2024 investment and future intentions for local road recovery and are committed to working with central Government to develop deliverable and well-costed plans for ongoing work.

Budget 2024 delivered $330 million for local road response and recovery work out to June 2025, to be shared among regions affected by the 2023 North Island weather events including Cyclone Gabrielle.

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst says it is good to have funding confirmed for the 2024/25 local road recovery programme.

“While there is detailed work to do be done with NZTA on the allocation of funding to programmes, the Government has responded positively to the region’s roading needs, with $91 million earmarked for Hawke’s Bay in year one according to NZTA,” she said. “We are grateful for the hearing we have had to date, and the subsequent action taken.”

The funding provided is to the end of the 2024/25 year. The Minister has written to the region’s Mayors acknowledging that work to fully reinstate our region’s local roads will take longer than a year. He advised that only one year of additional funding was provided at this stage due to fiscal constraints and cost uncertainty, but said he expects NZTA to work closely with local authorities to develop further cost estimates that could inform a future funding request to the Government.

Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor Alex Walker says it is clear there is more than one year of central Government support required to complete the rebuild of Hawke’s Bay local roads.

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“About $700 million of additional investment is required over the next few years, so it is really pleasing that the Minister has committed to both first year funding and working on the future programme.

“That’s a welcome commitment from the Minister. As a region we’ve been asking only for what we know can be delivered at different points in our recovery, using robust and defendable costings. We will continue to engage responsibly with central Government in the same way, recognising the fiscal constraints outlined in yesterday’s Budget,” says Mayor Walker.

Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise says: “We feel our work together puts us in a strong position to advocate effectively for ongoing support in future budgets. Our region relies on its local roads to connect communities and businesses. The Cyclone’s devastating impact means ratepayers alone cannot shoulder the burden of rebuilding these roads to the pre-event state.”

Meanwhile, Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said Mayors were continuing to assess Budget 2024 announcements with respect to the rebuild of State Highways in the region.

“For many in our region, state highways are our ‘local roads’. Our understanding is that the $609.25 million of funding for state highway recovery is targeted at returning affected roads back to their pre-Cyclone states across the weather-hit regions, such as replacing the Waikare Gorge bailey bridge with a permanent structure.

“The announcement indicates no Crown funding for major rebuild projects at this time, and that Hawke’s Bay cyclone-related state highway priorities like the Devil’s Elbow and Waikare Gorge realignments will be assessed by NZTA under the National Land Transport Plan, against other projects across the country.

“While this was not the news we were seeking, we recognise it was not possible for the Government to fund everything in a single budget. We remain committed to working as a region to advocate prioritisation of these projects as part of the Government’s and NZTA’s national planning. We’re encouraged by the fact that Budget 2024 did include an increase in the pool of funding set aside for future infrastructure investment across New Zealand. Our recovery is a long-term endeavour and won’t be accomplished in a single year.

“We will ensure that the Hawke’s Bay’s voice continues to be heard loudly, with these projects a top priority as we continue to engage with Government.”

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