More than $500 million on cycle lanes, and $100 million on further upgrades to the Hamilton to Auckland commuter rail service are just some of the $2.875 billion worth of projects the Waikato region has pitched to the Government's call for 'shovel ready' jobs that would fast track the region into the future.
The Government is looking to fund large projects to stimulate the economy after the Covid-19 lockdown, as the infrastructure sector projects 30 per cent fewer jobs over the next quarter of the year.
Among the Waikato region's list sent to Government are projects that would fast-track the city of Hamilton well into that future.
Under the united name of Future Proof, Waikato District Council, Waikato Regional Council, Hamilton City Council and Waipa District Council are putting forward regional projects to stimulate the economy and transform Hamilton.
A transformation for the region
Sports fields, upgrades to the Waipa water network, gully restoration and the development of growth cells across the Waikato in Peacocke and Cambridge are just some of the 23 projects that Future Proof has sent to the Government seeking funding.
All the projects are either shovel ready or will be in six months creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and which Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said in a letter to Government, exceed their stimulus criteria.
"The programmes are ambitious and transformational. They will deliver a substantial number of sustainable jobs to support our community, grow our skills and create an economic stimulus for local businesses in the greater Hamilton/Waikato region.
They will allow our city and region to fast‐track major projects which are already aligned and signalled within a robust planning framework recognised by the Government as best‐in‐class," Mrs Southgate said.
"Specifically they reflect priorities within the nationally‐critical Hamilton to Auckland Corridor Plan and within that, the Hamilton‐Waikato Metro Spatial Plan. That work has strong links to another high‐growth centre, Tauranga. Together, the Golden Triangle is home to more than 2.2 million New Zealanders."
The programmes submitted will help modernise our economy and make it more resilient as we enter a new future. They will deliver outcomes which we already know are important to our people and take into account cultural, social, economic and environmental well‐beings."
Finally, these programmes are presented to you by a united group of public and private sector partners who are absolutely committed to working together to do what is best for our communities and ultimately our country. We are ready for this."
The projects put forward to Government
1. Hamilton Mode Shift Programme - 20 Minute City
2. Hamilton to Auckland Passenger Rail Start-up Service Enhancements
3. Development of Sports Fields
4. Hamilton Zoo and Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park
5. Development of Natural Gully Networks
6. Rototuna Town Centre
7. Tourism Connectivity - Hamilton Gardens Waikato Museum
8. Development of a Pan Pasifika Hub
9. Te Ara Wai Project
10. Te Awa Cycleway Hamilton to Cambridge
11. Waipa Community Services Development and Restoration
12. Waikato Regional Theatre and South End Precinct
13. Waikato University Recreation Centre and Pool Project
14. Ruakura Growth Cell
15. Peacocke Growth Cell - Link to HIF and Peacocke (Airport-Cambridge) Corridor Initiative
16. Rotokauri Growth Cell
17. Waipa Waters Programme
18. Cambridge C1-C3 Growth Cell
19. Waikato Strategic Tourist Route Upgrades and Seal Extensions
20. Waikato Flood Management Infrastructure Programme
21. Waikato Region Stock Truck Effluent Disposal Facilities Construction Programme
22. Waikato Regional Airport - Terminal Resilience Project
23. Hamilton Airport Transport and Infrastructure Enabling Project
Hamilton the city of cycleways?
A complete revamp of a Hamilton's near non-existent cycleways that would have Hamiltonians travelling to the city hubs within 20 minute has been proposed. The project would cost over $500 million and provide jobs for nearly a decade.
Hamilton currently has only one separated cycleway, the revamped Claudelands Bridge which was finished last year. The project list sent to Government would see Hamilton connected with safe cycling infrastructure across the city.
Projects include the $50 million School Link project, which would transform 7km of urban roads into a cycle focused link for nearly 20 schools in the east of Hamilton. The project had been previously allocated funding as part of the 2018-2028 10-year plan, hit a speed bump when NZTA withdrew support from the project due to funding issues.
Hamilton city councillor Sarah Thomson said that this one is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the city.
"We have the chance here to fast track Hamilton into the future with cycleways, and providing safe infrastructure for those that want to use alternative means of transportation," Ms Thomson said.
"Right now we basically have no separated cycleways in the city. I hear stories of parents who want to let their kids bike to school, but right now do not think it is safe to do so."
"Some people say it is a nice to have or discretionary spending but this is about saving lives, it is about providing safe infrastructure for another demographic of Hamilton. We want the city to cater for not just motorists, but pedestrians and cyclists as well."
The council submission to Government says "Hamilton City has the highest dependency on private motor vehicle in New Zealand."
"This figure is directly related to historic decisions regarding the urban form of the city and the poor availability of alternative options.
"The effects of this reliance have direct and indirect economic, social, and environmental impacts. 30 per cent of our deaths and serious injuries are pedestrians and cyclists, congestion times are increasing, and there are ongoing demands for expensive car parking and additional bridges for vehicles."
"This reliance also affects wider issues from air quality to health of citizens to the carbon footprint of the city."
Hamilton to Auckland by rail
Despite being delayed by a couple of months, the Hamilton to Auckland commuter train is one large project for which Future Proof is requesting funding.
When it begins, the new rail service will run two diesel trains starting from Frankton station to Papakura in a two hour trip with stops at Rotokauri and Huntly.
However, in their proposal to Government. Future Proof said that building a regional rail and bus hub at the Puhinui Station in Auckland is now a higher priority for the Waikato due to the disruption to air transport for the foreseeable future.
"The Puhinui Rail Station is currently being upgraded and while it is being built with future regional rail functionality in mind, no allowance is made to actually activate it.
"This project has two components. The first is to construct a rail platform that would allow the service to stop and let passengers off.
"The second component is to construct a rail loop in advance of a future 4th line between Papakura and Westfield that would allow the service to dwell at Puhinui.
If this was resolved the start-up service would travel directly from Hamilton to Puhinui (and not Papakura) to join the Auckland metro.
Speaking to Hamilton News earlier, Hamilton city councillor Dave Macpherson who has championed the commuter rail service, said it would have been unthinkable to not include the Hamilton to Auckland rail, and any other regional rail, into plans for the Puhinui bus and train station.
"Puhinui, apart from being a connection to the airport, is about six stops further into to the Auckland metro network than Papakura," Mr Macpherson said.
"It will be an interchange, not just to the airport but also to the Manukau shopping centre, and when we did our study on why people would use the rail, the second most popular answer was transportation to the airport."
As in Future Proof's proposal is building further stations at Tuakau, Te Kauwhata and Pokeno for the commuter rail service to stop at.
Urban Growth Plan
As well as the 'shovel ready' projects outlined above, the Waikato sub region has also submitted a suite of Urban Growth Programme initiatives to central Government.
These initiatives represent the medium to long term opportunities from the Hamilton to Auckland Corridor and the emerging Hamilton-Waikato Metro Spatial Plan.
There are nine key focus areas outlined in the Waikato sub-region's Urban Growth Programme:
Focus area 1: Stronger Hamilton-Waikato Metro Connections
Focus area 2: Ruakura
Focus area 3: PeacockeKe – Airport Cambridge Corridor
Focus area 4: Rotokauri – Ngaruawahia Corridor
Focus area 5: Te Kauwhata – Ohinewai – Huntly Corridor
Focus area 6: Hopuhopu - Taupiri
Focus area 7: 3-Waters
Focus area 8: Waikato Expressway – Cambridge to Pairere
Focus area 9: Papakura – Tuakau - Pokeno
Many of the 'shovel ready' programmes have strong linkages to these nine focus areas.