It's getting exciting with our Government pushing its investment in transport in the Waikato region from $235 million to finish the Waikato expressway to building the first section of the Hamilton to Cambridge cycleway.
We promised to make the regions a priority, and our plan delivers. Under the last government, the majority of roading investment went to the big cities. We have reversed that, and the majority of roading investment is now going to the regions. $5.8 billion will be invested in Aotearoa's roads, a $600m increase compared to the last three years.
Our record transport investment plan for the next three years will save lives by making our roads safer, boost the economy, support our regions, help the environment, and tackle congestion in our cities.
Saving lives on our roads is now a top priority. We are investing a record $4.3b in projects that will make our roads safer, an increase of $1.2b.
The number of Kiwis dying on our roads has risen 50 per cent since 2013. That's not just a 'toll' that we have to pay — it is our friends and family. And it's the result of choices we all make — people choosing to speed or to drive drunk or high, or governments choosing to neglect safety improvements in their transport decisions.
We're investing more in road policing and the promotion of road safety. And we're investing more in improving safety on high-risk roads and intersections. Specific projects around the country will include fixing dangerous corners, roadside and median safety barriers, barriers, rumble strips, improved skid resistance, and safe level crossings.
Drivers make mistakes, but designing safer roads can stop a mistake becoming a tragedy. That's what we're committed to.
Here in the Waikato, we are awaiting the council's business case next month for an Auckland-Hamilton rail link. A total of $2.9m has already been earmarked for investigating the project. And for people travelling south to the Taranaki we are spending $34m on straightening the highway around Mount Messenger and building the Awakino tunnel.
Despite the scaremongering from National, state highways are still the largest single area of investment in the transport programme. We will invest $3.5b in new state highway projects across New Zealand. A further $2.2b will be invested in state highway maintenance.
The NZ Transport Agency is still making decisions on some of the big roading projects that the previous government planned but didn't put any money aside to build. The focus is on delivering the best value for taxpayers' money and improving safety.
This record $16.9b investment in transport will bring dramatic improvements to transport in New Zealand. Over the next 10 years, we are planning to continue to increase investment, in rapid transit like light rail, the latest in safety measures, and modern roads to support freight and tourism.
Nanaia Mahuta is MP for the Hauraki-Waikato electorate and the Minister for Local Government and Maori Development, and associate Minister for the Environment.