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.