Investment in roading welcomed

Work on the long-awaited Normanby Bridge project could begin as early as next year - news that has delighted South Taranaki's Mayor and councillors.

On Sunday, Prime Minister John Key announced a roading policy package worth $212 million which would be implemented should National be re-elected following September's election.

Funded through asset sales, 14 projects around New Zealand were included in the package. Between $10-15m has been earmarked for the Normanby overpass upgrade and up to $25m for work to be completed at Mt Messenger and the Awakino Gorge.

South Taranaki district Mayor Ross Dunlop said the announcement had been welcomed with open arms.

He said the council, along with other people like Whanganui MP Chester Borrows, had lobbied the government for years about the much-needed work.

"It just shows that persistence pays off," he said.

Dunlop said the funding injection would also be an investment for the Taranaki region as a whole.

"Regions like Taranaki have been facing increasing difficulties in accessing funds for their transport networks and infrastructure. This funding is a big step in the right direction to get some of our biggest state highway issues addressed," he said.

Dunlop said there was also a sense of relief from the people in the community that he had spoken to since the announcement.

Long time councillor Andy Beccard, who used to own a garage near the Normanby bridge, said the announcement was one of the highlights of his local government career so far.

"It's neat to see something being done about it after all these years," he said.

He said 21 people had died in the last 20 years in and around the area of the bridge and he attended some of those accident scenes himself.

"It's just a dangerous bit of road," he said.

Beccard said the plans for the work had been drawn up and approved several years ago and everything else was in place for the work to begin as soon as the money became available.

The work will involve a re-alignment of the current road along State Highway 3 and will change the current overbridge to a new under-rail pass.

Taranaki Daily News