Hamilton City Council is welcoming the funding announced this week for the city in Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency's programme over the next three years. But it is not all good news, says Mayor Paula Southgate, who says the council will lobby for more spending on projects that allow residents to decrease their reliance on private motor vehicles.
"For our broader biking and micro-mobility programme to receive very little funding is really disappointing, especially given the Government direction on climate change," Southgate says.
A statement from the council says of the $163.5 million in fully approved funding, only $5.2 million is for walking and cycling improvements and $1.07 million is for public transport infrastructure.
Another $10 million of probable funding is tagged for the School Link project to provide safer biking and scootering connections along the Hukanui Road/Peachgrove Road corridor.
"Promoting different modes of transport benefits all road users, so we will be advocating strongly to get this funding in place. We will also be having wider conversations with Waka Kotahi around some other projects, including Southern Links.
The investment for the Waikato and the rest of New Zealand is detailed in Ngā Kaupapa Huarahi o Aotearoa | 2021-24 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP), published this week by Waka Kotahi.
In Waikato, along with the completion of the Waikato Expressway, a further $85 million will be invested in local roads and a total of $237 million in state highway improvements.
$126 million will be invested in public transport, which includes the new Te Huia rail service linking Hamilton and Auckland.
"There is also $54 million for walking and cycling, which will include completing the 60km Te Awa walking and cycling connection between Ngāruawāhia and Lake Karapiro and beginning work on the Eastern Pathway School Link," says Waka Kotahi Director Regional Relationships for Waikato and Bay of Plenty, David Speirs.
Under the NLTP, Waka Kotahi co-invests 51 per cent of the cost of approved projects with the city council funding the remaining 49 per cent.
Key projects to receive funding include:
• the extension of Borman Road in Rototuna
• improvements to the Hamilton Transport Centre
• the upgrade of Ruakura Road
• the Cambridge Road to Cobham Drive section of Wairere Drive (Hamilton Ring Road)
• arterial roads for the new Peacocke community.
As well as these individual projects, funding is also approved for low-cost (less than $2 million), low-risk projects for council's road to zero initiatives, local road improvements and maintenance, and road safety education.
The level of funding for these low-cost programmes is significantly higher than the previous three years, which Southgate says the council is pleased to see, especially the investment in the council's vision for zero deaths or serious injuries on Hamilton roads.
"We want to shape a city that is easy and safe to get around, and this funding will help us make important improvements and upgrades to the transport network across our city," Southgate said.
"I know all councillors will be very pleased to see funding for the extension of Borman Road in Rototuna secured."
"We absolutely must do something about congestion in our city; we cannot let it get worse. There are a lot more conversations to be had yet," says the mayor.
Meanwhile, Federated Farmers says the news that the Government has shifted funding for local road maintenance back up a gear is heartening for rural families "dismayed by potholed access and dilapidated bridges".
"What we need now is for district councils all over New Zealand to dedicate a significant portion of this increased funding to dealing with the backlog of repairs to rural roads and bridges," Federated Farmers vice-president and transport spokesperson Karen Williams says.
In putting together its submission on the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport last year, Federated Farmers heard from members in many districts lamenting slumping rural roads, crumbling asphalt and bridges with suspect decking and pools of water.
"Urban folk can often choose public transport, or take a different route that might add five or 10 minutes to a journey," Williams says.
"But when a poorly maintained road in a more remote rural area becomes dangerous, or is closed for repairs, it can cause total upheaval for family life, farming business and getting stock and produce out and vital supplies in."