The transport funding package is positive news for the whole region, says Environment Waikato’s chairman, Jenni Vernon.
“The funding packages mean that big projects are going to be able to be progressed across the whole region - including the Kopu bridge, the Taupo by-pass, substantial work within Hamilton, and major upgrades to the Waikato Expressway,” she says.
“We're delighted that the government has put so much emphasis on transport issues in the Budget. And today’s JOG package is the icing on the cake.
“This is a package for the nation – not just the Waikato, because it focuses on the safety of long-haul routes linking the “golden triangle” of Waikato, BOP and Auckland, which forms a key economic powerhouse of the nation.
“The Budget returned $165 million of purchasing power to the region for projects, and advanced significant regional priorities such as the Kopu Bridge and Taupo by-pass, that would otherwise have been delayed.”
Now today's announcement gives another $215 million, predominantly for safety improvements. These will include:
- $105 million for safety improvements, such as SH2 and local roads
- $13 million for rail to improve capacity on the North Island main trunk through the Waikato
- $72 million for advancing key state highway projects that contribute to economic prosperity of the nation
- $10 million for passenger transport in the Hamilton area, and $5 million for rural passenger services.
- $5 million to improve walking and cycling access, predominantly within Hamilton
- $5 million for travel demand management, predominantly in Hamilton.
In total, this gives an additional $380 million that is can be invested in the region's transport infrastructure within the next 10 years.
On top of this, there will be extra money coming in from the nationwide $425 million announced yesterday – which is likely to further boost the Waikato funding.
Mrs Vernon said she was pleased that the government had recognised that the Waikato played a key strategic role in the nation's transport network, and was dealing with the worst fatal accident rate in the country – 20 per cent higher than any other region.
“The timing of specific projects will depend on where they are in the process of design and RMA consents, and their priority in terms of the Regional Land Transport Strategy, which is will be released for public submission in July 2006,” she said.
“All local government and other agencies, including Land Transport New Zealand and Transit, will be analysing the detail to ensure there is total alignment between the organisations.”