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$1.821 billion investment in Waikato transport network

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Unlocking economic growth, reducing travel time between Auckland and Cambridge and improving safety is the focus of a $1.821 billion investment into the Waikato’s transport network, announced today by the NZ Transport Agency.

More than half will target continued economic productivity and growth, fast-tracking the completion of the Waikato Expressway and projects such as the Hamilton Ring Road, while approximately $400 million will be spent improving safety as part of key projects.  

The investment is the region’s share of the $13.9 billion National Land Transport Programme, a partnership between local authorities who invest funding on behalf of local communities and the Transport Agency which invests national funding from petrol taxes, road user charges and vehicle registration and licensing fees through the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF).

The Transport Agency’s acting Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional director, Robert Brodnax, says a large part of investment in the Waikato over the next three years recognises and supports the vital part the region plays in New Zealand’s social and economic success.

“The Waikato is one of four regions including Northland, Auckland and the Bay of Plenty that make up the upper north island, an area that is vital to the growth of our country,” he says.

“The upper north island is home to over half of New Zealand’s population, and generates more than 50% of the national GDP. 

“More than half of all freight moves through this area and looking ahead, road freight volumes are forecast to increase by about 60 per cent by 2042.

“The Waikato is at the heart of all this activity and a safe and efficient transport system is needed to support the safe movement of goods and increasing population, to ensure the region can continue its significant contribution to the nation’s economy and growth.”

Mr Brodnax says the Waikato Expressway is the backbone of that support and over the next three years the Transport Agency will build on recent investments to ensure it is fully open in 2020.

He says the expressway will not only reduce travel times between Auckland and Tirau by up to 35 minutes but also improve safety, reducing deaths and serious injury crashes.   

“To support growth and make it easier for people to move around Hamilton, investments are also being made in completing the Hamilton Ring Road, extending Resolution Drive to join the Expressway, an upgrade at the Hillcrest roundabouts and extending Hamilton’s strategic cycle network,” he says.

“These projects will improve safety and enable significant planned commercial growth in Te Rapa North, Horotiu and Ruakura.”

Mr Brodnax says almost a third of the project investment (32 per cent) will be spent on improving safety and reducing deaths and serious injury crashes on Waikato roads.

“High-risk rural intersections will be a major focus in the Waikato region with a project planned at Piarere junction, the SH1 turn off to Tauranga (SH1/ SH29) and the SH3/SH21 intersection adjacent to Hamilton airport,” he says.

“We will also continue working to improve safety and provide more reliable travel times on the journey from Pokeno to Tauranga via Waihi, and along SH29 from Piarere to Tauranga.

“With our Safe System partners, the NZ Police and local authorities such as the Waikato Regional Council, we will also continue to target factors that contribute to fatal and serious crashes in the Waikato including speed, drink and drug driving, high-risk driving and not wearing restraints.

Mr Brodnax says significant investments will also be made in motorcycle safety in the region, with safety initiatives planned for some of the most popular motorcycle touring routes; the northern Coromandel loop and, in partnership with Waikato District, the Tuakau  to Raglan road (the old route 22).

Cr Hugh Vercoe, the chair of the multi-agency Waikato Regional Transport Committee, welcomed the $1.8 billion funding package.

“Through the $1.8 billion funding package earmarked for our region in the 2015-18 National Land Transport Programme announcement  today, we’ve achieved a strong alignment between the region’s strategic direction for land transport and central government’s priorities,” he says.

“That includes a continuing focus on promoting economic development, improving road safety and ensuring value for money.

“The Government’s decisions on the NLTP follow the clear articulation of our priorities in Waikato’s Regional Land Transport Plan,” said Cr Vercoe, from Waikato Regional Council.

“The RTC also looks forward to progressing our other priorities such as improving access and mobility for our rural and urban communities, promoting energy efficiency initiatives, and ensuring route security and resilience.”

Other highlights in the Waikato include;

  • A $543 million investment in maintaining and renewing the existing road network ($320m for local roads and $222m for state highways).
  • $53m on public transport to provide people with travel choices and access to services and areas of employment in the Waikato region.  
  • $7m on cycling and walking projects,   including the completion of the Hamilton to Ngaruawahia Te Awa – The Great New Zealand River Ride, in partnership with Waikato District, Hamilton City and Te Awa Trust; and the $4m Western Rail Trail, a 2.7km off-road shared path that will connect the south-western suburbs of Hamilton with the city centre, using the rail corridor.  (The total amount includes a $4m boost through the government’s Urban Cycleways Fund.)

The $13.9 billion forecast expenditure for 2015-18 marks a 15 per cent increase compared to the previous 2012-15 NLTP.

To find out more information about the national and regional NLTP funding, documents and Q&As are available on the NZ Transport Agency website at www.nzta.govt.nz/NLTP(external link)

2015-18 NLTP - Questions and Answers

What is the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP)?

The NZ Transport Agency develops the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) every three years to give effect to the Government Policy Statement on land transport (GPS). The NLTP sets out the activities that address the government’s transport priorities to give effect to the GPS.

Activities and projects which form part of the NLTP are the product of close collaboration, particularly between the Transport Agency and local government.

Investments are funded in a range of activity classes – a total of 10 in 2015-18, which are:

  • State highway improvements
  • State highways maintenance
  • Local road improvements
  • Local roads maintenance
  • Public transport
  • Walking and cycling
  • Road policing
  • Road safety promotion
  • Regional improvements
  • Investment management

What is the primary focus of this NLTP?

This 2015-18 NLTP investments are aimed squarely at increasing economic growth and productivity, improving safety and driving value for money, reflecting the strategic direction set by the 2015 GPS.

The programme has a strong focus on economic growth and productivity with 55% of investment focused towards this outcome. A total of 23% is focused on road safety and 22% on travel choices and the environment.

The investments made through the NLTP aimed to be regionally responsive and nationally consistent. Giving effect to the GPS, investment through this NLTP reflects the Transport Agency’s commitment to delivering value for money from existing and planned activities and driving improved performance from the land transport system.

How has the NLTP been developed?

The programme is a partnership between the Transport Agency and local authorities (who invest revenue primarily from rates). Funds for much of the Transport Agency investments come from the National Land Transport Fund, made up primarily of revenue received from things such as road user charges, fuel excise duty and vehicle registration.

The preparation of the 2015-18 NLTP has been informed by 16 regional transport committees and Auckland Transport. The committees developed regional land transport plans outlining activities to be submitted for NLTP funding.

Public submissions were considered by the regional transport committees on the final projects and activities that were submitted to the Transport Agency for potential inclusion in the NLTP. They were then assessed and prioritised according to a range of investment criteria to establish whether they were eligible for funding and of good value for money.

This process means the Transport Agency can build an overview of land transport requirements. The aim has been to develop an NLTP which is regionally responsive and nationally consistent.

How does the NLTP reflect regional land transport programmes?

Regional land transport plans (RLTPs) are an essential building block for the NLTP. However, these plans generally include more activities than there is funding available both regionally and nationally. This means that some activities in RLTPs may not proceed if sufficient funding is not available.

How much money will be invested in land transport through the NLTP over the next three years?

Total investment in this NLTP is $13.9 billion. This represents a 15% increase in total funding compared with the 2012-15 NLTP. A total of $10.5b will come from the National Land Transport Fund.

Key highlights of NLTP investment over the next three years:

  • Improvements to state highways and local roads of more than $5.5b are planned
  • Close to $2b total investment is planned for public transport, and represents a 21% increase compared to 2012-15
  • Direct investment in cycling will increase by 205% to $251m
  • About 42% of investment ($5.4b) will be outside the three key metropolitan areas outside Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch
  • About one third of the investment ($4.2b) will be in Auckland’s transport system and services
  • Planned co-investment between the Transport Agency and local councils for 2015-18 will be about $6.2b.
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