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Leaders of seven Bay councils have today signed off a bid for $755 million in Government economic stimulus funding for transport projects.

The package was put together in response to an invitation from central Government as part of the response to Covid-19.

It seeks 100 per cent central Government funding for 37 significant projects.

They range from footpath upgrades in Kawerau and extending Ōpōtiki's Motu trail, to Tauranga's Papamoa East interchange and traffic improvements in Rotorua's Ngongotahā Village.

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The biggest individual project in the package is the long-discussed - now costed at $96.6m - Katikati bypass in the Western Bay.

It also included a funding request for a ferry service for Tauranga and the Western Bay, to be contracted through the regional council, which could happen within 2.5 years.

A breakdown of the funding proposal by area aligning with the general policy statement on transport. Graphic / BOPRC
A breakdown of the funding proposal by area aligning with the general policy statement on transport. Graphic / BOPRC

The package was signed off in a virtual public meeting of the Bay's Regional Land Transport Committee this morning.

Attendees included mayors of the Tauranga, Western Bay, Whakatāne, Kawerau, Ōpōtiki councils, Rotorua's deputy mayor, two Bay of Plenty Regional councillors, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, and Bay of Plenty police.

The meeting was to be followed by a private meeting with Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford.

Committee chairman Lyall Thurston, a Rotorua-based regional councillor, said the meeting with Twyford would be an opportunity to push the Bay's case for stimulus funding.

Thurston said the challenges in recovering from the pandemic were unprecedented, but the regional recovery also presented "significant opportunities" that the Bay should make the most of.

"Our growing region is well placed to make significant gains and see considerable transport projects realised, something that without the pandemic, may not have been conceivable in the short term."

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Bay of Plenty Regional Land Transport Committee chairman Lyall Thurston. Photo / File
Bay of Plenty Regional Land Transport Committee chairman Lyall Thurston. Photo / File

He said the package was a collaborative effort and represented an "action plan".

The projects identified by each council would both provide "immediate and substantial economic stimulus, but also support central Government's longer-term objectives for the land transport system."

The package was broadly based on the Bay's 2018 Regional Land Transport Plan - a 10-year budget and work programme for transport spending - with variations to reflect current thinking.

The plan was next due to be redone in 2021, and planning work has started.

Any projects not funded by the Government as part of the stimulus package will be reconsidered then.

Regional council senior transport planner Bron Healy said the process was essentially an "early start" on the 2021 plan.

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Minister for Urban Development Phil Twyford. Photo / File
Minister for Urban Development Phil Twyford. Photo / File

He said only one project in the economic stimulus package represented a "significant" variation over $20m from the 2018 plan, if the variations were taken individually.

The one outlying project was $23.5m for upgrading roads and rail crossings for the proposed Rangiuru Business Park.

On balance, the variations were deemed "not significant for the purposes of public consultation", Healy said.

A report to the committee said it was "clearly in the public interest to unlock near-term employment opportunities and longer-term economic stimulus as a means of responding to the impacts of Covid-19".

There would be opportunities for project-by-project consultation if funding was secured.

The committee unanimously agreed to endorse the package without public consultation, and amend the Regional Land Transport Plan accordingly.

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"God bless her and we'll send it down to Wellington and wait for the $755m to come back," Thurston said.

The bid for post-pandemic economic recovery funding is the latest in a series of hurriedly prepared applications from Bay councils in response to urgent invitations from central Government.

The Crown Infrastructure Partners' call for "shovel-ready" projects prompted submissions of packages worth $1 billion from Tauranga, $120m from Western Bay and $210m from Rotorua,.

A separate invitation to growth councils from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development saw $3b worth of longer-term growth projects submitted by Smartgrowth, a collective of Western Bay councils and iwi.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

Bay of Plenty Transport economic stimulus package

Multi-party

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Tauranga Moana ferry service - $3-4m

Tauranga

• Eastern corridor growth projects - Papamoa East interchange - $83.5m
• Western corridor growth managementm - Tauriko West connections - $50m
• Smith's Farm access - $4.1m
• Western BOP transport system plan - $3m
• Te Papa spatial plan - $0.6m (for planning)
• Cycle Action Plan implementation - $24m
• Arataki bus facility - $5-10m
• Maunganui Rd multi-modal - $17.26m
• Totara St multi-modal - $10.9m
• Te Marie St connection - $2.3m
• Safety and speed management citywide - $18.5m

Rotorua

• Mitigation of effects on local Rds from SH upgrades, Vaughan Rd and adjacent - $2m
• Inner city multi-modal road corridor upgrades - $10-15m
• Urban cycleway projects, Pukehangi/Clayton, Parawai, Sunset Rds - $1.6m
• Ngongotaha Village traffic improvements - $2m

Western Bay

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• Katikati urban bypass - $96.6m
• Omokoroa roading improvements - $17m
• Welcome Bay Rd multimodal upgrade - $5m
• Tauranga Moana regional cycleway, Omokoroa to Waihi - $71m
• SH2 interchange for Rangiuru Business Park - $36m
• Road upgrades for Rangiuru Business Park - $23.5m
• High productivity motor vehicle road upgrade, Poripori Rd - $1.5m

Whakatane

• Bunyan Rd urbanisation - $2m
• Southern transport links, Pokairoa Rd seal extension - $15m
• Southern transport links, Ngamotu Rd seal extension - $7m
• Waipunga Route improvements - $11m
• Ngamotu Rd drainage improvements - $1.2m
• Te Urewera Rainforest route improvements - $5m
• Thornton Rd - Blueberry curves - $3.4m
• Thornton Rd - Smith Rd curves - $2.1m
• Thornton Rd widening - $10.75m
• Wainui Rd widening $17.8m
• Metaling unsealed roads, safety improvements Herepuru Rd, Stanley Rd, McIvor Rd - $5.4m

Ōpōtiki

• Ōpōtiki to Ōhiwa Cycle Trail - $2.5m

Kawerau

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• Shared path network - $3.4m