The Regional Land Transport Committee has signed off on a key milestone in the development of a land transport strategy for the greater Waikato Region.
The Committee has received and endorsed a substantive report on the key transport issues facing the Region – and made a decision to move forward to the next stage of developing and evaluating a range of strategic options that will respond to the issues.
“This is a major step forward,” says the chairman of the committee, Angus Macdonald. “It represents an important move towards gaining a Region-wide understanding of transport issues, which draws together the knowledge of a wide range of agencies.
“With this strong knowledge base, we can now move forward to the next stage of identifying and evaluating our key strategic options.
“The Regional Land Transport Strategy will be an important document that will drive transport direction in the Region over the next 20 years. It will also provide a blueprint for how the work will be funded. ”
Mr Macdonald noted that the forthcoming evaluation stage will be completed towards the end of this year, and will then lead into the formal consultation process on the proposed Regional Land Transport Strategy early in 2006.
Among the key issues raised by the report are concerns that:
- The Waikato Region has 10% of New Zealand’s population, yet contains 15% of the State highway network, and carries nearly 20% of the national road freight (which raises stakeholder concerns that the population-based regional funding allocation model unfairly disadvantages the Region).
- The Region carries a high proportion of through traffic and heavy vehicles (especially heading to Ports of Auckland or Tauranga).
- Needs to plan for increased population growth, particularly in the Hamilton City, Waikato and Waipa districts.
- Must provide for an aging population, who may require more public transport and disability access services.
- Must deal with growing congestion.
- Must make long-term strategic decisions on inter-regional corridors – for example whether to promote SH2 or SH29 as the preferred route into the Bay of Plenty.
In making its decision to move towards the next stage, the Regional Land Transport Committee considered reports on issues such as the Region’s changing demographics, the transport needs of industry, the development of funding options, and the key transport issues facing the Region, as well as reports on the extensive consultation process involved in the Regional Land Transport Strategy Review.
The Regional Land Transport Committee brings together agencies such as Environment Waikato, the 12 district councils, Transit NZ, the Police, Land Transport NZ, the Road Transport Association and representatives from a range of related organisations such as the health sector, Federated Farmers, cycle and public transport users.