Council clashes on waterfront boulevard
Nelson mayor Aldo Miccio denies that development of the planned waterfront boulevard is conditional upon moving the state highway off Rocks Rd, despite rumblings from various quarters that it might lead to a fast-track development of the southern link.
He said there was a possibility the Government might look at a new road as one of regional significance, but any decision would be up to the new council.
The investigation phase of a planned $6 million waterfront walkway and cycleway has started. It is to be partly funded from Nelson's $21m regional transport funding entitlement, which is channelled via the New Zealand Transport Agency, and from more than $1m in rates funds.
Councillor Rachel Reese and rival in the mayoral campaign said a clue that it was contingent upon moving the state highway was embedded in a statement in a joint letter in June from the mayor and Nelson MP Nick Smith to Minister of Transport Gerry Brownlee on roads of national significance status for Nelson's State Highway 6 road.
Ms Reese said while the aim of the letter was made public, certain details, which not even the council had been privy to, had not.
The letter to Mr Brownlee highlighted that work was being done with the New Zealand Transport Agency on the waterfront cycleway and walkway, but the problem was that while it was a state highway there was "limited spare capacity to safely accommodate additional usage".
The letter said, "the only practical and viable way to enhance the area is to relocate the state highway as long planned".
The council's co-holder of the infrastructure portfolio, Eric Davy, said he had not seen the letter sent to Mr Brownlee.
"My principal concern is now, which statement is correct: The one specifying his stand or where the council stands as we had no idea of the contents of the letter," Mr Davy said.
Ms Reese said if Mr Miccio was supporting a three-year turn around on the boulevard, but making it subject to moving the state highway, then he "better say that publicly to Victory and voters".
The mandate would also need sign-off from the council, she said.
"I am OK with a fast-track but Miccio has not supported that - at least not publicly," Ms Reese said.
Chris Allison of cycling advocacy group, Bicycle Nelson Bays, believed Mr Miccio was now promoting a position which undermined the current proposal to build a waterfront boulevard.
He said as long as the feasibility study gave the boulevard the green light, there was no reason why it could not be built, but it had to be finished by 2016 to meet the requirements of NZTA funding.
Mr Allison said that judging by the statement in the letter, Mr Miccio was now saying that the boulevard should only be built if the southern link is built, with heavy traffic moving onto that.
"This is placing a new condition on the project, and one that doesn't seem able to be met."
Mr Miccio said the waterfront boulevard project was "most definitely not contingent upon moving the state highway".
He said the study now under way was looking at the existing state highway remaining with the four-metre wide shared cycle way. If it was to be re-designated as a local road [if a new southern arterial link went ahead as a state highway], then it would open the possibility of a five-metre wide shared cycle way along most parts.
"In terms of any possible future arterial through Victory, as previously advised, the last study was completed three years ago.
"Every three years the traffic counts are revisited to see if Nelson has or hasn't reached the cost benefit ratio to trigger NZTA funding," Mr Miccio said.
He said Nelson was not anticipated to hit those levels for a further 25 years.
Nelson councillors agreed by a small margin in August 2011 to support a southern arterial corridor through the Victory and Beatson roads area as its sole option for managing future transport challenges.
Moves are under way to protect the route in Nelson where a future southern link road might go.
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