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Published: 2009-06-15 00:00:00

The Waikato Expressway’s standing as the region’s number one transport priority has been reaffirmed today as the 2009-19 Regional Land Transport Programme (RLTP) was recommended for approval by the Regional Transport Committee. 

"We are steadfast in our commitment to getting the Expressway finished as quickly as possible. We are heartened by the Government’s firm support for the project and we will be working closely with officials to get things moving," said committee chairman Norm Barker of Environment Waikato.

Today’s vote followed a public consultation and hearings process.

The RLTP sets out the region’s transport priorities for the next 10 years. Besides having the Expressway as the number one priority, the RLTP is closely aligned with central Government transport policy which has an emphasis on having transport infrastructure and services supporting economic growth and productivity.

The programme also has a strong commitment to improving road safety in the Waikato, which has been the leading area for road fatalities.

"We will continue to actively look for ways of reducing the road toll in our region. It is simply not acceptable, and we will all need to work hard to make the region’s roads safer," said Cr Barker.

Maintaining strong passenger transport services was another priority, he said.

"We want to protect and enhance existing passenger services. The idea of a Hamilton-Auckland commuter rail service is included in the RLTP to help Hamilton City Council in its pursuit of such of service.

"The door is open for parties such as HCC, other local councils and KiwiRail to develop this idea. But, due to a range of factors, including the tight economic times, EW has not allocated funding to support such a rail service in its draft 2009-19 Long-Term Council Community Plan."

Cr Barker said today’s agreement on the RLTP showed there was strong unity on transport amongst the various councils and agencies on the committee. "We will continue working closely together to advance the region’s transport agenda to help the Waikato operate as smoothly as possible on both economic and social fronts."

The RLTP still needs to be formally endorsed by EW’s full council before it is finally signed off.