Whatever the weather

September 17, 2014

From Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean’s Facebook :

This morning I attended the opening of the Tasman Valley Road with Conservation Minister, Hon Dr Nick Smith. This significant upgrade was a collaboration of NZTA and DoC to improve safety and accessibility to one New Zealand’s most beautiful alpine regions. It will have great benefits for the surrounding communities.

Jacqui Dean MP's photo.

Jacqui Dean MP's photo.

This is #TeamKey working for New Zealand whatever the weather.

The announcement on the road says:

The completed $3 million upgrade of Tasman Valley Road at Aoraki/Mount Cook was officially opened today by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“The major upgrade of the Tasman Valley Road is about improving the safety and accessibility to New Zealand’s most spectacular alpine environment. This new road will enable over 100,000 visitors annually to enjoy the magnificent mountain, lake and glacial views of the Tasman Valley, and the unique flora and fauna including mountain lilies and daisies, and our unique mountain parrot, the kea,” Dr Smith says.

“The upgrade unveiled today – a partnership project between the Department of Conservation and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) – will improve one of New Zealand’s iconic ‘must-visit’ destinations, and provide significant benefits for the local tourism industry.

“The original road previously ran over a very dangerous and busy 2.2-kilometre bluff section, which has now been moved and realigned to run along the Tasman Valley floor, where it follows the contours of the nearby Blue Stream. This addresses a number of safety concerns associated with high traffic volumes on a narrow and winding section of road used by large buses and campervans. The new section also reduces the potential exposure to rock falls and avalanches.”

The capital costs of the upgrade have been shared by the Department and NZTA.

“This project is a great example of the Department working in partnership with other agencies to meet the aims of all involved. The upgraded road meets the strategic investment priorities for the Department with the area being an iconic site, while also meeting the NZTA’s priorities to make improvements where there are road safety issues and high traffic volumes,” Dr Smith says.

“I encourage many New Zealanders and other visitors to the area to make good use of this new road, and enjoy one of the great sights our country has to offer.”


Green for stop

August 8, 2014

Green is usually the colour for go but in politics it’s the colour for stop:

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says the Green Party owes it to New Zealanders to identify which State highway projects would not proceed under its just released transport policy.

“With $11 billion removed from planned State highway projects, it’s hard not to conclude it’s all of them,” Mr Brownlee says.

97 per cent of New Zealand’s passenger travel and 91 per cent of freight movement is done on the roads.

“The National Government supports public transport and has provided $2.4 billion over the past five years. With the local government contribution that is $3.5 billion spent on public transport, including commuter rail investment in Auckland and Wellington.

“The Green Party needs to explain which of the following roading projects it would axe first, or if it’s all of them:

Northland (Puhoi – Wellsford: $1.38 billion, Akerama Curves Realignment & Passing Lane: $10-$13.5 million, Loop Rd North to Smeatons Hill Safety Improvements: $15-$20 million).

Auckland (Western Ring Route: $2 billion, Northern Corridor: $450 million, Southern Corridor: $210 million, State Highway 20A to the Airport: $140 million, East West Link: $10 million investigation).

Bay of Plenty (Tauranga Eastern Link: $500 million, Rotorua Eastern Arterial investigation).

Waikato (Waikato Expressway: $1.9 billion).

Taranaki (Normanby Overbridge Realignment: $10-$15 million, Mt Messenger and Awakino Gorge Corridor: $20-$25 million).

Gisborne (Panikau Hill and Wallace Hill Slow Vehicle Bays: $1.2-$1.5 million, Motu Bridge Replacement:  $3-$5 million).

Hawkes Bay (Napier port access package investigation).

Manawatu (Whirokino Trestle Bridge Replacement: $25-$30 million).

Wellington (Wellington Northern Corridor, includes Transmission Gully: $2.1 – 2.4 billion).

Nelson (Nelson Southern Link investigation).

Marlborough (Opawa and Wairau Bridges Replacement: $20-$25 million).

West Coast (Taramakau Road/Rail Bridge: $10-$15 million).

Canterbury (Christchurch Motorways: $730 million, Mingha Bluff to Rough Creek realignment: $20-$25 million).

Otago (Kawarau Falls Bridge:$20-$25 million).

“The Greens also propose to cut local road spending by over half a billion dollars, putting pressure on our communities and compromising safety.

“Since being elected in 2008 the National Government has been rectifying a 30 year deficit in road transport infrastructure. The Green Party proposal would put us back by decades.

“The National Government has a balanced land transport policy (www.transport.govt.nz/gps) which gives commuters choice in the modes they use to travel and helps businesses to choose the most efficient way of getting their goods to domestic and international markets,” Mr Brownlee says.

 The Green’s transport policy shows it’s anti-progress and anti transport.

It also shows how disconnected it is from provincial and rural New Zealand.

The road improvements it would stop are vital links within and between provinces.

They carry people, emergency services, stock and produce as well as tourists all of which are important for the social and economic well-being of the communities they link.

The only go about the Green transport is the progress which would go away if their policies were implemented.


Best not done publicly

July 12, 2014

Mis-tweet of the day:

This would indeed be irritating and many people will relate to it.

Some might even give him points for using a bus.

But MPs have more power than the rest of this and expressing irritation over a worker’s action is best not done publicly like this.

The criticism will get back to the driver’s employers and s/he could well face some sort of disciplinary action as a result of it.


Roads to somewhere

June 30, 2014

The single-lane Kawarau Falls Bridge at Frankton has been a bottle-neck for years.

Over the peak holiday period last summer traffic waiting to cross it queued for several kilometres.

Delays like this don’t just waste time, they waste money and fuel.

But in spite of pleas for urgency the best the NZ Transport Agency could come up with was:

. . . The project is now ready to proceed to detailed design and construction when funding is available.

The next phase of the project is not currently programmed but is likely to be included in the 2015/18 Otago Regional Land Transport Programme. From there it may be approved for funding as part of the 2015/18 National Land Transport Programme and an expected construction date can be set. . .

That was until yesterday when Prime Minister John Key announced $212 million from the Future Investment Fund for a package of 14 regionally important State highway projects.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says the government is committing up to $80 million from the package to accelerate five critically important regional projects, with work beginning next year.

These five projects are:

  • Kawarau Falls Bridge, in Otago
  • Mingha Bluff to Rough Creek realignment, in Canterbury
  • Akerama Curves Realignment and Passing Lane, in Northland
  • State Highway 35 Slow Vehicle Bays, in Gisborne
  • Normanby Overbridge Realignment, in Taranaki.

“These projects are fully investigated and designed, and address current safety, resilience or productivity issues, but construction wasn’t due to begin until late this decade or after 2020,” Mr Brownlee says.

“Following today’s announcement construction on these projects could begin in 2014/15, and be completed by 2016/17.

“The government is committed to fund the next six projects with an additional $115 million and subject to the usual investigations, construction would be expected to begin within three years on each of these projects.

The six projects are:

  • Whirokino Trestle Bridge replacement, in Manawatu/Wanganui
  • Motu Bridge replacement, in Gisborne
  • Opawa and Wairau Bridge replacements, in Marlborough
  • Taramakau Road/Rail Bridge, on the West Coast
  • Loop road north to Smeatons Hill safety improvements, in Northland
  • Mt Messenger and Awakino Gorge Corridor, in Taranaki.

“A further $12 million will be available to accelerate investigation and design of three large projects in Hawke’s Bay, Nelson and the Bay of Plenty,” Mr Brownlee says.

These projects are:

  • Port of Napier access package, in Hawke’s Bay
  • Nelson Southern Link, in Nelson
  • Rotorua Eastern Arterial, in Bay of Plenty.

“Each project could then be considered for funding under the proposed Regional Improvements activity class in the next Government Policy Statement on land transport.

“By directly funding some of the most crucial State highway improvements, the government is freeing up more funding in the Regional Improvements activity class for other priority projects.

“This funding package also strongly complements the government’s Roads of National Significance programme, ensuring people and freight reach their destinations quickly and safety,” Mr Brownlee says.

 Not all of these roads will get as much traffic as the Kawarau bridge but all are important links in the regional roading network.

When National announced its policy of partially selling a few state owned assets it said some of the money would be invested in other assets and infrastructure.

Without the proceeds from the partial sales these projects would either not go ahead so soon or would have had to have been funded from more borrowing.

With the money the roads will be improved sooner, making transport faster and safer.

#‎TeamKey‬ is working for New Zealand, building roads to somewhere in stark contrast to the left whose policies will take us nowhere.

We're committing an extra $212m across 14 regional roading projects that will make these roads safer, increase regional productivity and improve the way our roading network operates. http://ntnl.org.nz/1jxfGlO


A stupid, stupid man

April 17, 2014

Think about Labour policy announcements this year and what comes to mind?

Debacles.

Wrong figures, wrong impressions, wrong strategy.

The latest is what has been dubbed a clustertruck – the proposal to restrict trucks to the slow lanes of three and four-lane highways.

Truck drivers said preventing them from using the outside lane on three- and four-lane highways would be unworkable and unlikely to reduce congestion.

The Automobile Association (AA) also questioned the policy, saying its members had never cited trucks as a cause of congestion. . .

Then there’s another problem with the transport policy:

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says Labour leader David Cunliffe has got himself in the most astonishing predicament on TV3’s Firstline this morning, by claiming the National Land Transport Fund is “going to be in surplus very soon,” so it’s time to give some of it back to taxpayers.

“We know Mr Cunliffe is under significant pressure from his own caucus, having announced policy on the hoof yesterday without telling the team back at Labour’s war room,” Mr Brownlee says.

“Now, when asked by the media this morning to explain where the forgone revenue from this policy would come from, Mr Cunliffe has resorted to making things up, presumably thinking no one would call him on it.

“The fact of the matter is the National Land Transport Fund is by its very nature incapable of achieving a surplus, or a deficit – it is what it is.

“This is an ongoing fund which is used to fund the National Land Transport Programme, which for the years 2012-2015 will see $12.3 billion invested in road building, road maintenance, public transport, and which includes $300 million a year for targeted on-road Police enforcement.

“The fund might be above or below forecast at any point in time due to factors like the performance of the domestic economy, or fuel prices, but this is a dedicated fund, with all its money coming from Road User Charges and Fuel Excise Duty on an annual basis.

“All of that money is spent on New Zealand’s roads and public transport through the National Land Transport Programme; the question of surplus or deficit simply never arises.

“What’s more, thanks to changes in driver behaviour – in particular more efficient use of vehicles by large transport fleets using GPS technology – and increasingly fuel efficient vehicles, there has been greater financial pressure on the National Land Transport Fund in recent years, not less.

“Despite that, over the past six years this government has invested more in our land transport system, following a sustained period of under investment, and that’s just starting to pay off for all New Zealanders.

“We know this is increasingly difficult territory for Labour.  They don’t want to talk about building roads because they don’t want to offend their Green coalition partners.

“But if Mr Cunliffe believes there is a surplus to be had in the National Land Transport Fund, he needs to explain what bits of the fund’s programme he is going to cut.

“If there’s some mystical way of creating a surplus inside the National Land Transport Fund without cancelling planned investment, David Cunliffe needs to tell us.

“I’d love to know what document he has seen that suggests this fund has, or will soon have, more money than it needs.”

Paul Henry says it all:


Country roads aren’t motorways

March 31, 2014

Rural Canterbury areas are campaigning to get motorists to slow down on country roads:

Selwyn District Council says the “country roads are not motorways” campaign has come about after 187 crashes in the district from 2009 to 2013, in which speed or driving too fast for the conditions were a contributing factor.

No caption

Photo: IS 100k OK CAMPAIGN

Eight people died in those crashes and 33 received serious injuries.

Of all the speed related crashes during that period, 86 percent were on the open road.

The speed limit is a maximum not a target and drivers have a responsibility to drive to the conditions.

Narrower, windier roads which may or may not be sealed require a lot more care than many motorists, accustomed to little more taxing that Sate Highway 1, give them and 100 kph is often not OK on them.

But it’s not only visitors who speed. Locals and frequent users including stock can get a bit complacent and go faster than they should too.

That said, I’ve seen some very careful and considerate behaviour from Fonterra tanker drivers.

One summer evening I was at the top of a hill when I spotted a tanker on a farm track heading for the road a few hundred metres ahead.

I crept down the hill, round the blind corner, up the other side and found the tanker waiting patiently in the gateway for me to pass.


Green pot calling blue kettle black

December 3, 2013

The Green Party is complaining about transport costs:

New data shows that families’ spending on transport is skyrocketing, driven by the cost of petrol and cars, and National’s transport priorities is making it worse, Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said today.

This is very much a case of the Green pot calling the blue kettle black.

Her party would make fuel even more expensive through higher ETS charges.

The Green Party also wants to lower the value of the dollar which would increase the cost of imports, among which are fuel and vehicles.

And the party is campaigning strongly against mineral exploration which has the potential to not only earn export income but also reduce our reliance on imported fuel.


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