Taranaki welcomes new roading funds

BLANTON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 17/06/2014

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Building a replacement for the Normanby overbridge could be back on the agenda as early as next year under new government funding.

A draft government policy statement issued by Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee yesterday proposed up to $90 million a year be allocated to work on the region's roads.

If it is signed off regional roading bodies will bid to have funding allocated to their proposed projects starting in the 2015 to 2016 financial year.

Taranaki Regional Transport Committee chairman Roger Maxwell said the first step would be submitting a regional plan prioritising potential projects.

Topping the list were the Normanby overbridge and passing lanes in North Taranaki.

"I think we are very well positioned to bid for money from the fund," Maxwell said.

Projects would be assessed by the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA) using criteria that considered potential economic benefits, road safety and road resilience.

"Our projects tick the boxes. We punch above our weight economically, so we should get a slice of the action," he said.

Maxwell said land had been bought and the Normanby overbridge project had been ready to go for years.

"Everything is in place there and the plans have been pigeonholed."

The new funding system replaces what was known as the regional fund where the government allocated money to each region on a per capita basis.

Taranaki was given $57 million 10 years ago under the scheme, but it has since been used up with the remaining money going towards the Vickers to City project.

"Until yesterday we've had no indication of how or even whether funds would be made available for new projects, so the draft government policy statement (GPS) is very welcome," Maxwell said.

Road Transport Association executive officer Tom Cloke said the fact a new fund had been drafted was great news.

"Our industry welcomes the opportunity to progress spending on the route north, and is very hopeful that the Normanby bridge project will be the first project to get the tick to use some of this funding," Cloke said.

However, Cloke said he was disappointed there was no increase in funding for the policing of New Zealand roads.

"We must all work together to see Taranaki become a region with nil road deaths and policing is an important part in achieving this."

Cloke said he was encouraged by the extension of dedicated cycle networks which he said would have an affect on reducing road cycle deaths.

The draft GPS would likely be signed off by the minister towards the end of August following a period of public consultation.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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