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Published: 2014-11-03 00:00:00

A new 30-year regional plan to underpin Waikato’s key land transport systems is due out this Friday for public consultation.

The 2015-2045 draft Regional Land Transport Plan was signed off today by the multi-agency Waikato regional transport committee.

The plan, once submissions are taken into account, will be the basis upon which the Government will hopefully provide the region with about $4 billion in transport funding over 10 years.

“An efficient, well functioning transport system is vital to the Waikato region,” said committee chairman Hugh Vercoe of Waikato Regional Council.

“As an export generating region it is very important that we are able to move our export goods efficiently and effectively to the major ports in our neighbouring regions.”

Cr Vercoe noted that, with 16 per cent of the national state highway network and a large percentage of the national freight tonne kilometres moving through the Waikato, the region also plays a major part in keeping the economy of New Zealand moving.

The committee had worked hard with transport partners on the plan so it provides a firm foundation to drive transport development and investment over the next 10 years and beyond, he said, and the draft plan largely follows a “steady as she goes”’ approach.

Under its recommendations, the highest regional priority continues to be the completion of the four-lane Waikato Expressway, with a target finish date of 2019.

Improving road safety also continues to be a major focus for the committee, Cr Vercoe said.

“While our regional road toll continues to improve due to a highly successful collaborative effort across the region, it is still higher than it should be.

“We have set ourselves challenging road safety targets in our regional road safety strategy and the activities in this plan will assist in addressing these issues.”

Access and mobility as well as managing travel demand continue to be key priorities for the committee. Public transport in Hamilton and surrounding satellite towns form the heart of the regional public transport system. “The new draft Regional Public Transport Plan 2015-2025, consulted on concurrently with this plan, signals a new era in public transport as the outcomes of a strategic network review begin to be implemented, along with a public transport operating model.”

The role of rail is also recognised in the plan as a major mode of transport which is carrying an ever increasing share of inter-regional freight. The draft plan identifies and supports major rail projects such as track strengthening and the Kaimai tunnel floor remediation.

Projected population growth around Hamilton and the northern part of the region will be stimulated by growth in Auckland. The plan signals the need to examine potential transport responses within this growth area, including the role of inter-regional passenger rail between north Waikato and Auckland.

The plan is open for public consultation from Friday 7 November through till 5pm on Monday 15 December. Hearings following the consultation process are due next February, while the committee is due to recommend a final plan for adoption to the regional council by April. The final plan is due to be operative in May next year.

From this Friday, people can go to www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/RLTP to read the plan and make an online submission. Submissions can also be posted to Transport Policy Team, Waikato Regional Council, private bag 3038, Waikato Mail Centre, Hamilton 3240.

A summary of the plan will be included with the regional council’s Your Waikato publication going out to ratepayers in the first week of December. It will be available to read online from Friday 7 November.