Mayor: We missed out
Provincial New Zealand is missing out on funding for its road networks, says Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman.
He was responding to the New Zealand Transport Agency announcement yesterday for transport funding to boost economic growth, tourism and safety in the Top of the South over the next three years.
The investment would include $175m spent on road maintenance and improving freight routes in Marlborough and Nelson via bridge strengthening for larger freight vehicles.
Marlborough's funding allocation was disappointing, Mr Sowman said. However, the lack of funding dispersed through provincial areas around the country had not come as a surprise because of economic circumstances.
The bulk of the funding had gone to cities, and the plan for the top of the South remained extremely vague, he said.
Marlborough was missing out on capital funding for projects such as the Grove Rd tree planting $380,000; Middle Renwick Rd roundabouts $1.5m; Jacksons Rd-Old Renwick Rd intersection $230,000 and Bells Rd-St Leonards Rd-State Highway 6 intersection $350,000.
"Quite frankly, I'm not surprised - but I am disappointed," Mr Sowman said.
"Obviously nothing significant is going to be happening in Marlborough over the next few years."
Kaikoura MP Colin King said he could understand the mayor's disappointment.
"I'd imagine that any reduction in central funding would be a disappointment for the mayor."
However, councils across the country were facing reduced funding for roads. "It's a reflection of the times we're living in, tight budgets, and that there's not a lot of money to go around."
Marlborough-based Green Party list MP Steffan Browning said that among the key outcomes of the regional road plan was improved routes for heavy freight. But this came at the cost of the environment and reduced road safety.
More emphasis was needed on transportation of freight by rail or coastal shipping, he said.
The council had always had difficulty with road funding because of the region's many roads, required maintenance, and lack of population to pay for them.
NZTA regional director central Jenny Chetwynd said the $175m investment was unprecedented, and would result in money, fuel and time saved, and safety gains from fewer journeys.
Marlborough would receive $7.4m of regional funds for increasing freight capacity, especially on Northbank Rd. The funding would also go towards replacing the Dashwood overbridge and straightening of its approaches, on State Highway 1 to improve safety. This would improve safety and travel times.
Nelson has $21.7m for a freight route connecting Richmond to Blenheim, improved safety and traffic flow along Waimea Rd, and safety improvements to State Highway 6.
ON THE ROAD
Marlborough's 2012-15 roading spending programme:
●$55m on maintenance, operations and renewals
●Split $28 million for local roads and $27m for state highways
●$7.4m regional funding invested in:
freight route improvements on Northbank Rd and State Highway 1;
replacing the SH1 Dashwood overbridge and upgrading relevant section of highway.
- The Marlborough Express