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Published: 2002-03-04 00:00:00

Environment Waikato chairman Neil Clarke is optimistic that progress will be made on the Mercer to Longswamp section of State Highway One following Transport Minister Mark Gosche’s visit to the Council today.

He said the Council was satisfied with the reassurances Mr Gosche gave to its Land Transport Committee on his perspective on the importance of State Highway One.

The Minister talked to the Committee – made up of representatives of Hamilton city, local authorities, user groups and Police - describing the transport funding package which was announced last week and answered several questions.

“He confirmed that the extra money being produced by the 4.7 cents per litre increase in petrol tax is not exclusive to Auckland roading needs to overcome its congestion problems. It is pleasing to note that an understanding exists between the Auckland Region and Waikato Region where each region supports the needs of the other.

“We have recent confirmation of this from a written statement signed by the mayors of Auckland.”

He said the next step was for the regional office of Transit to rework the Mercer to Longswamp section and submit a new proposal to the Transit New Zealand board in April. The board would evaluate it and hopefully re-submit the section to Transfund for further consideration.

“Under the new strategy, the Government will give Transfund general directions about its intentions for the use of these extra funds but Transfund will be in a position to include State Highway One and the Mercer section in particular within the package, if it thinks fit.

“The concerns of the community at large, as well as those expressed by Hamilton city and the surrounding local government districts, has been well understood by the authorities and I have optimism that progress will eventuate.”