Saddle gets part of big roading spend

MATHEW GROCOTT AND JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 30/08/2012
Rangitikei St-Tremaine Ave intersection
ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ

GREEN LIGHT: The $800,000 upgrade of the intersection of Rangitikei St and Tremaine Ave is among projects in the National Land Transport Plan released yesterday.

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The promised $4.5 million upgrade of Saddle Rd has been included in the Government's roading budgets for the next three years.

The largest roading budget in the country's history, released yesterday, features $12.3 billion in spending including $230m for the upkeep of roads in the Horizons Regional Council area.

Horizons chairman Bruce Gordon said he was yet to work through the details of the National Land Transport Plan, but said he was happy with the amount of funding for the region, and particularly pleased to see a commitment to Saddle Rd.

The road has taken a hammering in the year since the Manawatu Gorge road was closed and the NZ Transport Agency has said it will upgrade the road significantly.

While the agency will repair existing damage to the roads this year, the $4.5m upgrade work, which will involve slow-vehicle bays, better drainage and the straightening of corners, will not start until the next financial year.

Labour associate transport spokesman and Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway said the region was being short-changed at a time when the Government was spending more on roads than ever.

"Regional and local roads are still getting a tiny proportion of the funding that Roads of National Significance are getting."

Tararua District Mayor Roly Ellis has previously warned $4.5m would not be enough to properly upgrade Saddle Rd.

However, Palmerston North Mayor Jono Naylor said while improvements to the Saddle were needed it would be a mistake to spend too much money there at the expense of the rest of the region's roads.

"I completely endorse that it's a priority. Something needs to be done. But we need to be careful not to over-invest in it."

Palmerston North's pickings from the NZTA budget include the four-laning of Tremaine Ave through the Rangitikei St intersection.

The project would probably receive funding of $479,000 toward the total $823,000 costs in this financial year.

The seismic strengthening of the Milson Line overbridge, however, will receive assistance only if other projects do not eventuate. NZTA has earmarked reserve funding of $253,000 toward the $735,000 project. Mr Naylor said the low priority was disappointing.

Other expenditure in the plan included $4.3m for the investigation of safety improvements on the Otaki to Levin section of the Wellington Northern Corridor road of national significance, signalled earlier this year.

The Whakaruatapu Bridge on SH2 north of Dannevirke will be replaced at a cost of $6.6m.

The $230m in maintenance included $185m for local roads, up from the $179m spent in the Horizons region in the previous three years.

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- Manawatu Standard

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