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Safety Transfund's focus for Taranaki, Manawatu...

Safety Transfund's focus for Taranaki, Manawatu and Wanganui

Road safety is the focus for Taranaki, Manawatu and Wanganui 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, $123.06 million has been allocated for investment in Taranaki, Manawatu and Wanganui's land transport network in the 2004/05 NLTP. This comprises:

* road maintenance for state highways and local roads ($97.14 million)

* state highway and local road construction projects ($23.02 million)

* passenger transport services ($1.22 million)

* promotion of walking and cycling ($0.02 million).

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

Over $30 million of the road maintenance funding will assist with the ongoing recovery from damage caused by the February 2004 floods.

A proportion of the region's allocation is committed funding for projects, including design of the four-laning of Mangaone Hill on State Highway 3 in New Plymouth and construction of the Hihitahi Bluffs realignment on SH1 in Rangitkei.

Other projects which may be funded during the year include seal extension projects on the Whanganui River Road/Pipiriki Road in Ruapehu and Wanganui, a seal extension on Okahukura Saddle in Rupehu and the construction of the Bell Block bypass on SH3 in New Plymouth, Dr Wright says.

Other smaller state highway projects that may begin during the year include realignment of Pilot Road South on SH3 to improve safety and seal widening of Fagan Road North on SH1, including a northbound passing lane.

Dr Wright says passenger transport funding increased by 45 percent with $1.22 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.

The increase is predominantly due to the planned introduction of new services in Taranaki and Palmerston North and an increased commitment to total mobility services in the region.

Under the promotion of walking and cycling activity class, Transfund has received a funding request from Palmerston North City Council for further promotion of cycling in the district.

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.

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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