A reduction in funding for state highways might be bad news for the Bay of Plenty but it's too soon to tell, the chairman of the region's transport committee says.
On Tuesday, the Government released a draft of its government policy statement for transport - a strategic guide for how over $4 billion a year in land transport funding should be allocated over the next 10 years.
The Government increased money for public transport, cycleways, pedestrian pathways and safety improvements, but cut funding allocated for state highways by 11 per cent.
Spending on regional roads would double from about $90 million a year to $180 million a year in 2019/20 and up to $210 million for four years after that.
That came at a cost for future large-scale motorway upgrades such as National's policy of $10 billion for 10 further Roads of National Significance, which included a four-lane motorway from Tauranga to Katikati.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford said there will be "targeted" improvements to state highways instead.
Bay of Plenty Regional Transport Committee chairman Stuart Crosby said it was not clear exactly what the policy would mean for roads including State Highway 2 - both north of Tauranga and on the East Coast - the planned Tauranga Northern Link project or Rotorua congestion hotspot Te Ngae Rd.
"A reduction of spending on the state highway network and pulling back on roads of national significance is a concern for the Bay of Plenty, but it may be compensated by a higher spend on safety," Crosby said.
"But it's early days yet."
Crosby said it would all come down to how the NZ Transport Agency, responsible for deciding what work happened on which roads, interpreted the policy statement.
The agency was due to announce its plans in August, Crosby said. Its decisions would be informed by the regional transport plans currently being developed.
The submission period for the draft Bay of Plenty plan had closed and the committee would be hearing submissions next week.
Crosby said the plan would be modified based on feedback from submissions, and on the policy statement before being finalised and sent to Wellington.
Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller said the Government's priorities, which also included $4 billion for Auckland light rail, were "out of touch" with the regions and communities like Omokoroa and Te Puna campaigning for upgrades to State Highway 2.
"They say there will be safety improvements, and anything that makes our roads safer is welcome, but we all know this will just be tinkering at the edges," Muller said.
Asked what the policy meant for SH2, Twyford said the Government provided the strategic direction for transport funding but operational decisions on individual roading projects were made "at arms length" by the agency.
"Residents concerned about the safety of their local roads need to encourage their councils to make these roads a priority in their regional roading programmes."
Engagement on the draft policy statement will close at 5pm on May 2.
- Additional reporting NZ Herald