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Published: 2009-08-27 00:00:00

Vigorous lobbying by a strongly united Waikato Regional Transport Committee has been a major factor in the Government’s decision to speed up development of the Waikato Expressway, says committee chairman Norm Barker.

"We’re absolutely delighted at the major boost the Expressway has received today. The extra resources being pumped into the region will get the bulldozers moving more quickly to make our roads safer, and ensure the flow of freight and passenger traffic is much smoother," said Cr Barker, from Environment Waikato.

"With the Waikato having the worst road toll in the country, and with vast volumes of freight and tourist traffic using our roads, the extra resources going into the Waikato Expressway are an investment in saving lives and making our regional and national economies far more efficient. The Waikato is one of the country’s key economic engine rooms and this investment will also help achieve the Government’s objective of driving growth.

"The Government deserves credit for listening to the Waikato’s concerns and stumping up the funding we need to make quicker progress on the safety and efficiency fronts."

Cr Barker’s comments came after the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) released by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) gave $938 million to Waikato land transport funding over the next three years, a jump of 32 per cent over the previous three years.

All up, activities included in the NLTP for new and improved infrastructure for state highways in the Waikato are worth $481.8 million in the 2009-12 period, some $59.6 million more than what was asked for in the Waikato’s own Regional Land Transport Programme.

Other key NLTP announcements benefiting the Waikato included formal confirmation of $47 million for the Kopu Bridge and $110 million for the east Taupo arterial route, Cr Barker said.

"We will now be going through the fine detail of the announcement to look at the implications for EW and other councils in the region.

"One of the things we’ll have to consider is the NLTP’s impact on funding of Waikato public transport. We’ll have to assess what the implications are for the passenger transport we provide, particularly in Hamilton."