NZTA chief grilled on port, dairying

17:00, Jul 15 2014

The restructure of PrimePort Timaru and the development of the dairy industry were hot topics yesterday when the New Zealand Transport Agency came to town.

The NZTA has been conducting a series of meetings across the country to discuss how transport systems are developing.

NZTA chief executive Geoff Dangerfield said he was watching the port deal closely as it had a direct affect on how NZTA formed its strategy for the district.

"Obviously we have to keep watching what is going on and react to scenarios as they come up."

Dangerfield said there was an on-going relationship with KiwiRail, and though he was unsure what would happen with freight logistics around the port, the situation was not going unnoticed.

Dangerfield also touched on the subsidies that NZTA gives to local government and concerns that the amount NZTA contributed would decrease.

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"First off, we prefer the term ‘investment'," he said. "We are not changing the overall amount of money we give, but how we allocate it will change."

Dangerfield said that on average, road-user charges would account for 53 per cent of the funding, and the local council would provide the rest, but "we don't want the roads to be of a lesser quality and we will work with local governments which can't afford as much".

Dangerfield said change was a constant and people should not be worried.

"Right now the [United Kingdom] is facing the challenge where they have had a 40 per cent budget reduction in roading. We are lucky not to be in that situation," he said.

Dangerfield said there would be an announcement in three or four months regarding how the "investment" would be divvied up.

Meanwhile, NZTA is finalising a three-year strategy for 2015-18.

"We are figuring out what priorities are facing us at the moment and what range of investments we need to be making," he said.

The Timaru Herald