Bid beefs up proposal for Victory road

ADAM ROBERTS
Last updated 13:00 28/06/2013
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Nelson's mayor and MP have announced a bid to make the proposed southern link a Road of National Significance, in an attempt to address the pace of the city's growth to avoid it becoming "the constipated city".

MP Nick Smith and Mayor Aldo Miccio have jointly written to Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee to petition him to add the southern link to the Government's Roads of National Significance.

The move was announced at the Nelson Regional Economic Development Agency's Economic Summit 2013 at the Rutherford Hotel yesterday.

If the status was granted, the road would be given an increased priority for funding and consenting. There are now seven Roads of National Significance in Northland, Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch.

Dr Smith told those at the summit that over the last decade Nelson had been growing at a pace in similar percentage terms as areas such as Auckland.

"If we're not going to keep up, if we're not going to become - rather than the Sunshine City - the constipated city, we have to invest in the infrastructure to support the growing population and that growing link to the port."

The Roads of National Significance programme identified key roads around the country that were so important that they needed to be included in the national infrastructure plan.

Dr Smith said Nelson lacked a rail link and needed an efficient roading system, and therefore the southern link was as important to the region as any of the other roads of significance were to their respective regions.

He wanted the project included in the priority list over the next decade.

A cycleway and walkway around Rocks Rd would always be substandard when there were so many thousands of heavy vehicles driving past, Dr Smith said.

He was not expecting an instant response from the transport minister, and this was the start of a dialogue, he said.

"We're basically wanting to put our hand up."

The next step was for him and the council to sit down with Mr Brownlee to discuss how to proceed. Mr Brownlee was aware of the project, he said.

Road resources were competitive nationally, and the Christchurch earthquake had added pressure.

Mr Miccio said the city council's Arterial Traffic Study had shown there would be no problem with (traffic) congestion for at least 25 years, but they had to plan for the future.

Steps were progressing to protect the route in Nelson where a future southern link road might go.

Nelson councillors agreed by a small margin in August 2011 to support a southern arterial corridor through the Victory area as the city's sole option for managing future transport challenges.

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A proposal is with consultants to provide a "Southern Corridor Management Plan" that would decide planning and management measures needed to protect the southern arterial corridor so that it remains a long-term transport option.

Waterfront Association chairman Jeremy Matthews said he was delighted with yesterday's news of the bid, saying it was great to see people gathering together and focusing on the solution rather than the problem.

The road was vital, skeletal infrastructure for the Nelson region, he said.

"We don't have rail, we don't have any other option. We're like a spider web and we have got one strand."

If done well, the link would give the Victory community an opportunity to craft itself in a way that worked, he said.

Peter Olorenshaw, who convenes the lobby group Nelsust which is opposed to the building of new roads, said the southern link was a road of "total insignificance".

He said the only issue was trucks in Rocks Rd, and the lobby group had its plan to barge the logs, which had not been accepted.

"I think there are other options rather than bulldozing a route through Victory."

Dr Smith had "baggage" around the plan, and was being pushed by constituents who thought the road would be a miracle solution, Mr Olorenshaw said.

He also pointed to the 2004 Environment Court ruling stating the road was the wrong place for a state highway.

"To have this come out, it's a bit of a shock really."

He doubted the idea would be successful.

WHAT ARE ROADS OF NATIONAL SIGNIFICANCE?

Roads of National Significance are highways linked to New Zealand's economic prosperity.

The NZ Transport Agency is charged with delivering the projects within 10 years.

The seven approved Roads of National Significance are: Puhoi to Wellsford, the completion of the Western Ring Route in Auckland, the Victoria Park Tunnel, the Waikato Expressway, the Tauranga Eastern Link, the Wellington Northern Corridor and the Christchurch Motorways. Source: NZTA

- The Nelson Mail

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