Mayor: Roading money fantastic
The Nelson waterfront is to get a $6 million boulevard development aimed at improving walking and cycling areas with the announcement the city has secured its long-awaited regional transport money.
At the same time a portion of Nelson's $21m regional transport funding entitlement, which has been the subject of fraught negotiations for the past 18 months, will be spent on improving heavy vehicle routes from Richmond to Blenheim.
The funds are part of the New Zealand Transport Agency's $12.28 billion investment in New Zealand's land transport system distributed through the 2012-15 National Land Transport Plan, and reflect its recognition that freight and tourism are the "lifeblood" of the Nelson and Tasman region, NZTA regional director central Jenny Chetwynd said.
She said the package included full allocation of Nelson's R funds (regional funds).
R funding is made up from a five-cents-per-litre fuel excise duty and a portion of road-user charges for light vehicles. It is distributed regionally on the basis of population.
Tasman has already spent its share while Nelson has for some time been grappling with how best to spend its portion, and has been up against a deadline for finalising its wishlist. It has also been in disagreement with NZTA on which projects meet the funding pool's criteria, which have been tightened in the economic climate and as post-quake Canterbury has soaked up money for its rebuild.
Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio was today "ecstatic" with the announcement, which means widening of Rocks Rd for a pedestrian and cycle boulevard would now go ahead.
"It's fantastic for Nelson as it means we can get some real progress around the waterfront. It will be a better destination than it is now - to have that boulevard will be massive for Nelson," Mr Miccio said.
The city held the "walking, cycling and schools" project, which included the $6m Rocks Rd cycleway and walkway, as a priority for the money, when a year ago the Rocks Rd boulevard was ranked 10th on Nelson's list of 15 regional transport priorities.
Nelson transport committee member and city councillor Derek Shaw said it was good news at least that the R funding had been allocated to Nelson when it could have been taken away.
The agency will distribute a total $175m for projects in the top of the South Island aimed at boosting economic growth, tourism and safety.
Tasman had been allocated $36m for local roads and $49m for state highways, which was part of the ongoing contribution to the district and had already been budgeted for, Tasman mayor Richard Kempthorne said today.
Investment in improving heavy vehicle routes includes spending on strengthening a number of bridges to enable them to carry larger, more productive vehicles.
A transport rule change, that took effect in 2010, allows for trucks with the required permits to boost their loads from 44 tonnes to 53 tonnes on specified routes.
Ms Chetwynd said improving the productivity of freight had flow-on benefits for the region and beyond.
She said the agency's key focus in the fast-growing region was keeping communities connected and keeping roads secure and resilient for freight and tourism.
Ms Chetwynd said the investment package would also improve facilities for walking and cycling in Nelson. The agency recognised cycling in the region was going from strength to strength.
"We want to improve safety and access for recreational and active travel. This will make it safer and easier to get to and from school, and help to encourage people to get out of their cars and onto the pedals, and also foster cycle tourism."
Ms Chetwynd said targeted investment would be focused on tackling high-risk roads.
- © Fairfax NZ News
View obituaries from around the region
View births, marriages and celebrations from around the region
Nelsonians in pursuit of London pride
Page and Blackmore Readers and Writers Festival