Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall has hailed the Government's announcement of increased roading funding for Whanganui as "just fantastic".
On Thursday, June 28, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced the new 10 year plan for transport includes an increased share of New Zealand Transport Agency funding for regional projects.
Although details are scarce at present, McDouall said the announcement was great for Whanganui.
"It's exciting that the rate is going up, that the burden is going back on the taxpayer rather than the ratepayer, and that the Government recognises the chronic underfunding of the regions," McDouall said.
The Government was committed to fixing the widening infrastructure deficit in the regions, Twyford said.
"Over the last nine years of National, infrastructure investment in Manawatū and Whanganui was cut by $59 million," Twyford said.
"The widening infrastructure deficit left by these cuts is visible in the number of people dying on neglected rural roads, in gridlocked traffic and struggling or non-existent public transport systems.
"The new Government Policy Statement on land transport means more money will be available for essential transport infrastructure and local roads in Manawatū and Whanganui."
The National Land Transport Fund will increase from $3.6 billion in 2017/18 to $4b in 2018/19 and continue to rise to $4.7b a year by 2027/28. This will be allocated across New Zealand, with increases available for every region.
"Under our plan the Government will invest in important projects across the country, rather than a few hand-picked highways in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch," Twyford said.
"National spent the lion's share of their transport budget on just nine roads predominantly in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch that carry only 4 per cent of traffic. Our plan spreads the available transport funding more fairly around the whole country into a much greater range of projects.
"Essential safety improvements to dangerous roads... were marginalised to pay for nine gold-plated four lane expressways in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch."
McDouall said he applauded the safety aspects around local roads.
"If you have a climbing road toll, you have to deal with it."
The Government will complete the expressway projects begun under the previous government which are currently under contract, and allow for future state highway upgrades.
"You look at some motorways in the metropolitan areas and it's like people are going 15, 20, 25 seconds faster whereas for us it can make a huge difference," McDouall said.
"The thing I would really like to see is the extension of the expressway from Otaki to north of Levin. It's really important for Whanganui. I've been talking to ministers about it every opportunity I get and have been banging away at supporting that for so long. It would shift Whanganui 15 to 20 minutes closer to Wellington."