Auckland gets big bite of road pie

Auckland roads came out as the big winner after Land Transport New Zealand's national road funding announcement today.

LTNZ will spend $24 billion over the next 10 years as part of the National Land Transport Programme.

A record $2.3 billion will be spent this year - a 14 per cent increase on last year.

Auckland's roads are to get 26.7 per cent or $558.7 million of the amount and Waikato 6.5 per cent.

For the first time Transit's funding includes $223 million for police road enforcement.

The total includes an increase in government funding, which was announced in February, of $1.3 billion over five years.

Land Transport chair Jan Wright said the money available had "greatly increased", but so had costs.

"We are keen to ensure that recommendations from the Ministerial Advisory Group on roading costs are acted on when the report is released later this year."

A large part of the 2006/07 programme represented continued funding for ongoing activities such as road maintenance and passenger transport services, as well as funds committed to projects approved in previous years, she said.

Among the features of this year's programme:

* Transit NZ will receive just over $1 billion to maintain and improve the state highway network - an increase of $144 million from last year.

* Regional Councils, Transit NZ and some local authorities will receive $301 million for passenger transport, including $141 million which is aimed at maintaining and expanding services.

* $107 million will be set aside for emergency work and preventive maintenance to minimise the threat of road closures.

"New Zealand faces huge transport challenges. The $2.3 billion allocated ... will help us meet those challenges," said Dr Wright.

Top priorities for each region:

* NORTHLAND
Increasing tourism at the top of the North Island will see a focus on maintaining local roads and state highways, with $42.98 million of the $51.29 million allocated to the region being used for that purpose.

Funding will also be used to begin sealing SH1 to Cape Reinga, and the Kamo bypass.

* AUCKLAND
Congestion will be targeted, with the majority of funding - $374.68 million - being spent on construction of state highways and passenger transport.

A significant amount will be spent on projects including the Manukau Harbour Crossing as part of the Western Ring Route and improvements to SH1 through Warkworth.

* WAIKATO
The region's horror road toll means the funding focus will be on the safety of the area's roads.

Maintaining the state highways and local roads will eat up the biggest chunk of the $135.14 million allocated, with $95.96 million to be spent.

The road safety goal for the Waikato region is to reduce fatalities and hospitalisations to fewer than 570 a year by 2010.

Last year road crashes caused 844 fatalities and hospitalisations.

* BAY OF PLENTY
The region will receive $55 million of the total allocation.

The Bay of Plenty has the highest intensity of heavy vehicles on its roads so maintaining state highways at a cost of $29.1 million is the region's priority.

Tauranga's congestion problems will also be targeted and major roading projects include the Tauranga Harbour Link and, on SH2, the Tauranga eastern motorway.

* TARANAKI
The emphasis of the $30.65 million funding in Taranaki will be on local and state roads. An amount of $16.38 million will be spent on maintaining the state highways and $11.59 will go towards maintenance of local roads.

Dairy and forestry transportation has affected local roads and intersections, creating safety problems. So funding will go towards tanker parking areas, intersection upgrades, wider bridges, underpasses and passing lanes.

* GISBORNE AND HAWKES BAY
Maintaining residential roads in the region will take up $30.90 million of the area's funding allocation of $72.78 million.

Gisborne's regional work includes strengthening, widening and sealing of most major access routes to production forests in the region.

Local roading is also the focus in Napier due to an increase in subdivision developments. Access will be improved to the port of Napier from the south.

Attention will be paid to highway maintenance - $26.14 million of the total - especially the substandard and difficult Matahorua and Putorino gorges between Wairoa and Napier.

* MANAWATU AND WANGANUI
Maintaining the state of local roads and highways will continue to be the focus of the $52.67 million funding that Manawatu and Wanganui will receive.

An ongoing concern is the use of the region's roads by heavy vehicles. So there will be provision in the funding for planning arterial routes through and around Palmerston North.

* WELLINGTON
The Western Corridor Plan (SH1 from Ngauranga to Peka Peka, just north of Waikanae) features heavily in Wellington's $118.29 budget.

At least $33.46 million has been put aside for construction of new state highways, including the Transmission Gully motorway.

The other Western Corridor plan will be to improve rail services to reduce congestion in the area.

MARLBOROUGH, NELSON AND TASMAN
The region will see $37.04 million of funding from the programme, with $17.01 million being allocated to rural roads.

This is in response to a projected increase in forestry production in the region.

Local road maintenance will also get a chunk of the booty, with $9.44 million allocated - some for public transport options.

* CANTERBURY
The region will get $87.78 million of the funding, mostly going to maintain local roads and state highways because of Christchurch's suburban expansion and the southern motorway extension.

Public transport will also receive a boost of $14.62 million.

* WEST COAST
The region will receive the smallest helping of the transport programme's funding - only $22.93 million, or 1.1 per cent of the pie.

An increase in freight vehicles and tourists in the region recently has meant maintenance of the local highways has secured most of the money - $14.54 million.

Key areas targeted will be upgrading stretches of SH73, the road through Arthur's Pass village to Klondyke corner and construction of the new Arahura road/rail bridge on SH6.

* OTAGO AND SOUTHLAND
The bottom of the country will receive $95.41 million of the total allocation.

Traffic volumes in the area - particularly the Catlins and Crown Range - are predicted to grow by 50 per cent over the next five to 10 years, prompting a focus on maintaining local roads and highways; $79.6 million will be allocated for this purpose.

Included in that allocation will be work on strategic routes in Central Otago, Queenstown and Wanaka.

The Chatham Islands will receive $2.05 million.

- NZPA

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