Long road ahead for boulevard proposal
Nelson City Council has some hoops to jump through if it is to convince the Government road funding authority to help pay for a planned multimillion-dollar public boulevard around Rocks Rd.
It was announced in August that the 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 $21m regional transport funding entitlement.
A report to the Nelson Regional Transport Committee last week showed the project among a list of "probable" items on the NZ Transport Agency's funding priority checklist.
NZTA planning and investment manager Peter Hookham said "probable" meant funding was expected to be available, subject to normal approval processes and cashflow.
"When many things are aligned, that's when the funding application goes out, but it would take something substantive to make it fall off the list," Mr Hookham said.
Nelson's $21m R funding has been the subject of fraught negotiations for the past 18 months. The funds are part of NZTA's $12.28 billion investment in New Zealand's land transport system distributed through the 2012-15 National Land Transport Plan.
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. The proposed $6m boulevard project is tied in with an $11.6m plan to improve walking and cycling facilities in Nelson.
City council infrastructure committee co-portfolio holder Eric Davy said the money was there for the boulevard project, but there was plenty of work to do yet to convince NZTA it was still a good idea.
The boulevard would also require a portion of ratepayer funding. It has been the subject of discussion at a recent city councillor portfolio holders' briefing. A report on the terms and scope of the project is due to go to the full council next month.
Infrastructure co-portfolio holder Gail Collingwood said there would need to be some council contribution, which has been earmarked through the long-term plan, but details were scant at this stage. "I know staff have been working with NZTA, but I have no more information than that. There is a report coming to councillors, but this is not going to be a project that happens overnight," Mrs Collingwood said.
Mr Davy, who refused to attend the informal portfolio holders' meeting because it was not open to all councillors, said outside a transport committee meeting on Thursday that while he fully supported building a boulevard, the idea as it stood paid lip-service to the concept which could never be fully realised unless trucks and heavy vehicles were removed from Rocks Rd.
"My own view is that the boulevard is a brilliant idea but it's not as good as it could be because it's still going to have vehicles alongside it."
Mr Davy believed the NZTA should commit to the southern link first in order to get vehicles away from the waterfront, so that area could be turned into a recreation area that people could enjoy.
The controversial southern link route through the Victory and Beatson Rd areas has long been opposed by the Victory community and supported by groups wanting to enhance the waterfront. The city council has kept the southern link option open to future consideration as a result of findings of the arterial traffic study.
Mr Davy said any decision on Rocks Rd belonged to NZTA alone.
"It's totally up to NZTA because it's a state highway - Rocks Rd is their road. What I'd like to see is the boulevard go ahead, and NZTA take over the southern link as a state highway, and leave Rocks Rd as a local road."
NZTA told the Nelson Mail in 2010 that looking after the 3.7-kilometre stretch of state highway around the waterfront has cost $1.4m in maintenance in the last six years, largely due to cliff stabilisation.
Mr Davy described the dilemma over Rocks Rd as a "real conflict that could tie this city up for a longer time to come".
NZTA said $35m would be spent on road maintenance, operations and renewals in the Nelson region over the next three years.
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