Street accuses government of highway bribery

KATE DAVIDSON
Last updated 12:58 01/07/2014
housework
ONE STEP CLOSER: An aerial photograph of Nelson City showing the cycleway on the Railway Reserve near Nelson Intermediate, left. The route suggested for the Southern Link road.
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Nelson-based Labour MP Maryan Street has blasted the Government's promise for a share of $12 million towards the proposed Southern Link highway as a "cheap, transparent bribe".

Nelson MP Nick Smith has announced funding to investigate and design the proposed link, which would connect Wakatu Drive to St Vincent St through the railway reserve and Victory community.

Street called it nothing more than a "crass political gimmick buying votes".

‘This is clearly something that Nick wants to be his legacy to Nelson. There is still more evidence against the need for the Southern Link than there is for it. There is an Environmental Court judgment that says it is not a good place to put a motorway or a major highway. This is simply pork barrelling of its worst kind."

She said the money was still a long way off from being delivered and was only for an investigation when there had already "been more investigation of this particular stretch of road than just about any other in the country".

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese welcomed the news. "I'm pleased to see the Government focusing on the regions. I have spoken before and recently about security on our main arterial routes. Again, only last week, we had issues with the loss of both Waimea Rd and State Highway at the same time.

"That starts to really concern me when we get into an hour and a half where we can't get access to the main hospital in the region and the impact it has on emergency services trying to get to a situation during a heavy rainfall event, a slip, or other such incidents," she said. Reese said the city was sitting in limbo not knowing what was going to happen and it had a right to know so it could better plan Nelson's infrastructure.

Nelsust convenor Peter Olorenshaw opposes the route, saying Nelson's traffic volumes are "declining". He rejected Smith's comments yesterday that traffic volume numbers were being "played with".

The Arterial Traffic Study released in 2012 proved numbers were falling, he said. The study report stated a "key finding of the earlier stages was that as a consequence of recent changes in land use and population growth projections, no significant arterial traffic problem exists - nor is one forecast to develop over the modelled time period. This is an important change from previous transport studies".

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Olorenshaw said: "Is Nick Smith really saying we should ignore the traffic counts that have shown a decrease in traffic numbers since 2005? Is this doctor of engineering saying that figures are irrelevant, anecdote is to be relied upon?"

Meanwhile, the proposal caught the attention of many online readers with a poll showing 67 per cent of 461 votes in favour of the Government spending $40m-$50m on the proposed Southern Link road.

- Nelson

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