Authority to look at three-lane decision

The Government's road funding authority says it is working to understand the implications of the Nelson City Council's decision to rule out support for a possible third lane in the planned Rocks Rd development.

The council resolved to set in motion the investigation phase of the planned $6 million waterfront walkway and cycleway. The council added a clause that it would not consider a clearway or three-laning option in the mix for the shared pathway investigation.

It is considered the flagship project of the planned city walk/cycle/schools package and would be partly funded from Nelson's $21m regional transport funding entitlement, and more than $1m in rates funds.

The council told the public last year, following the outcome of the Arterial Traffic Study, that it would leave only the southern link on the table as a future option to handle increased transport capacity.

The New Zealand Transport Agency said ahead of the meeting last month that the option to make Rocks Rd three lanes wide would be considered as part of the walkway/cycleway investigation, but no decision had been made.

Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio was challenged at the meeting to prove he had no knowledge that NZTA planned to add a clearway corridor to the state highway around the Nelson waterfront.

Mr Miccio said at the time that discussion was about the best configuration for a walkway and cycleway for Rocks Rd, and not a road transport corridor.

NZTA central regional director Jenny Chetwynd said recently that while a clearway (third lane) was identified as a potential option in last year's Nelson Arterial Traffic Study, there were no plans to build one.

A recent report to the Nelson Regional Transport Committee said NZTA was now aligning funding for the investigation, design and construction phases of the project to line up with city council funding. NZTA insists it will work with the council to find a common ground.

Regional manager planning and investment Lyndon Hammond confirmed the agency had received feedback on the council's resolution relating to the terms of reference for the study of walking and cycling provision on Rocks Rd, and was working with the council to "understand the reasons for, and implications of their recommendation on the study as we move forward".

Mr Hammond said because it was a joint study each party needed to continue to work together to ensure all were happy with the terms of reference.

"Until the terms of reference are finalised it's too early to indicate which specific options would be considered. We expect to have developed the terms of reference early next year and will be in a position to provide further information on this then," Mr Hammond said.

Regional transport committee chairman Ian Barker said as far as he was concerned the council needed to be firm and stick to its policy. He said it seemed "almost mischievous" that clearways on Rocks Rd still featured in the NZTA mix despite the defined policy of the council.

He said Rocks Rd was a state highway, which meant NZTA ultimately had the final say, and while "anything was possible" in terms of an outcome the city's desire was to work with NZTA to find a mutually acceptable position.

"The council has resolved it's not in favour of having three lanes. I don't know if we can say how much power we have in the final decision and at the end of the day some politics will come into it, but we can only work towards what's in the council policy.

"We have a policy established and have identified the southern link as our preferred route and we have to work together with the Crown, and one would hope the Crown will accept that," Mr Barker said.

The Nelson Mail