Drive for funding to upgrade roads

By Zaryd Wilson

1 comment

Whanganui won't have much choice in needing to upgrade its roads, but the city's leaders are asking the Government to stump up some cash.

The Ministry of Transport has proposed an increase in the size and weight of trucks allowed on the country's roads to cope with projected increases in road freight.

But it would require Whanganui's roads to be upgraded to handle the bigger vehicles, and councillors want the Government to help pay.

Whanganui District Council infrastructure manager Mark Hughes told Whanganui District councillors at a meeting on Tuesday there would be benefits to the rule changes and council would support them, "provided that central government pass on some of the benefit of that".

The council will make a submission to the Government's proposal.

However, he said council would not support an increase in vehicle height because of trees and overhead services on the city's streets. The New Zealand Transport Agency has been upgrading its national network, which included Cobham Bridge, to handle bigger vehicles, but local roads are the responsibility of the council.

"The dilemma we face is that we can't just say no," Mr Hughes said.

"Yes, there is a benefit for the whole country for doing this, but recognise that we need the money to upgrade our roads."

Neighbouring councils would be submitting on a similar basis, he said.

Councillors wanted it made clear in its submission to Government that council would need financial help.

The district could not absorb increased roading costs itself, Councillor Helen Craig said.

"I'm not sure it's coming across strongly enough."

Deputy mayor Hamish McDouall said he also backed stronger wording in the council's submission.

"Because the core issue of this and just about every other land transport issue has been to impose further costs on local government while we don't reap the benefits. I think NZTA have skimped on funding Whanganui roads and this will only further damage key roads. It's Government imposing costs on local government."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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