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Safety Transfund's focus for Otago and Southland

Safety Transfund's focus for Otago and Southland

Road safety is the focus for Otago and Southland 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, $94.05 million has been allocated for investment in Otago and Southland's land transport network in the 2004/05 NLTP. This comprises:

* road maintenance for state highways and local roads ($71.66 million)

* state highway and local road construction projects ($19.71 million)

* passenger transport services ($1.58 million).

Transfund chair Dr Jan Wright says the money allocated to the region is likely to increase during the year should Otago and Southland'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 improvements to State Highway 6 with a passing lane at Waitiri in the Kawaru Gorge and widening of Wye Creek bridge south of Queenstown, replacement of the Waianakarau North bridge and associated highway realignment at Sharpes Bend on SH1 south of Oamaru, and the sealing of the remainder of the Chaslands Highway in the Catlins in Clutha.

Projects approved for funding this year include seal extensions on Blueskin Road and Law Road near Dunedin, replacement of Coggens No. 2 bridge in Central Otago and improvements to the smoothness of a number of roads in Dunedin.

Other projects which may be funded during the year include eight bridge replacements comprising two in Waitaki, two in Clutha and four in Southland, seal extensions on McDonnell Road, Mt Iron and Riverbank Road in Queenstown-Lakes district and realignment of a section of SH1 between Tumai and Waikouaiti, Dr Wright says.

Other smaller state highway projects that may begin during the year include Clarendon realignment and passing lanes on SH1, realignment of SH6 at the area known as Gentle Annie West, passing lanes at Brydone Memorial on SH1.

Dr Wright says passenger transport funding of $1.58 million is 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.

Under the promotion of walking and cycling activity class, Transfund has received funding requests from Queenstown-Lakes District Council for improvements to the Old Shotover River Bridge and from Dunedin City Council for the continuation of walking and cycling projects in the city.

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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