Council + community = progress

April 14, 2015

A challenge from Waitaki District mayor Gary Kircher has resulted in the main road in to Moeraki being rebuilt:

. . . Haven St has been closed to through traffic since August 2013 when a 350m to 400m section collapsed following heavy rain.

The road is being rebuilt as part of a push by the Moeraki community to reopen the road because of concerns about the width of the alternative route via Tenby St and that visitors were having problems finding their way to local restaurants and accommodation providers.

A group was formed to work with the Waitaki District Council and manage offers of help and material from local people to tackle the work under the supervision of an engineer and work on the road began in February.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the rebuilt section of street was ”very impressive”. He was ”blown away” by what had been a ”fairly unique partnership” between the Waitaki District Council, the Moeraki community and local contractors.

”Numerous community members have done so well getting the road to this stage.”

He did not believe so much work had ever gone into the stretch of road, which had been notorious for slips for many years.

”Time will be the real test, of course. This work has been the chance to give it our very best effort. If this doesn’t succeed, I’m sure that nothing will, short of spending millions on it.”.

The project started as a challenge the mayor gave to the community at the meeting at the Moeraki Marae late last year.

”They more than met that challenge.”

An NZTA subsidy was not available for the road, and the district council offered to help pay if the community matched it in cash or in kind.

In the end the council would have spent about $60,000 of ratepayers’ money on the road.

He was keen to publicly acknowledge the huge impact the Moeraki community had made. . .

The popularity of the harbour,  Fleurs Place and the tavern leads to a lot of traffic on this road and the detour was less than optimal.

The rebuilding is a tribute to the people who accepted the mayor’s challenge.

This project could be a template for progress in other areas where there’s an opportunity for the council and community to work together.


Fuel price fall good as pay rise

January 7, 2015

A few weeks ago when I filled my car it cost nearly $120. I filled it last week for less than $100 and the price of fuel has fallen since then, and is predicted to fall more.

. . . Brent crude oil, the oil imported to New Zealand for petrol, was down US91c to US$56.42 a barrel on Friday on the back of continued concerns about a global supply glut.

Earlier in the day it had fallen to a post-2009 low of US$55.48, only half its average price of about US$110 a barrel between 2011 and 2013. . .

That reduction is as good as a pay rise or tax cut.

The benefit isn’t just the direct one of needing to spend less on fuel. There’s also the indirect benefit from a reduction in the cost of transporting goods.

Fuel is a significant cost on most farms and in many other businesses which will welcome the savings.

The government will get less in GST from fuel, but at least some of that will be offset by people spending money they would have spent on fuel on other things.

What does this mean for the theory of peak oil?

The price is a function of supply and demand and the lower price reflects a higher supply.


Where there’s a gap . . .

November 18, 2014

Last week news of Air New Zealand’s decision to pull out of some smaller domestic routes was met with the usual emotional response.

But already Sounds Air is looking at  flying some routes Air New Zealand will ditch and Tauranga-based Sunair Aviation is investigating starting flights to Kaitaia and Whakatane.

These airlines are only at the investigation stage but it shows where one business leaves a gap in the market, there can be an opportunity for another to fill it.


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


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