The Regional Land Transport Committee today reached agreement on the draft Regional Land Transport Strategy, which sets out the direction for how land transport will be managed, prioritised and funded during the next 10 years.
"I am delighted that the committee has come to agreement on the overall strategy – as this will help us move forward with confidence on land transport planning for the region," says Regional Land Transport Committee chairman, Councillor Angus Macdonald.
"It is important to realise that this strategy is not just about roads – it is about how people travel around the region to access employment, education, recreation and services. Hence the strategy includes planning for a wide range of transport modes, including cars and trucks, rail, buses, walking and cycling.
"Funding is never sufficient to undertake all the projects that could be done. For this reason, we need to plan ahead to make sure that we have a vision of a transport system that can take us into the future.
"The draft strategy will shortly be open for public submissions from 17 July to 18 August 2006, and we invite the public to have their say on the future priorities for land transport in the region"
Cr Macdonald noted that while the Waikato region has 10 per cent of the nation's population and 16 per cent of the state highway network, it carries 20 per cent of the nation's heavy transport movements.
“In addition, our region has the highest fatal crash rate in New Zealand – 20 per cent higher than any other region,” he said.
“This is why the strategy places such a high emphasis on improving road safety. Our road safety record is not good enough, and hence we are focused on ensuring sufficient funding and resources to alleviate blackspots.”
Cr Macdonald said the strategy made protecting and enhancing the region's strategic roading corridors a high priority.
“The State Highway 1 Expressway is the highest priority transport issue for the region, and we expect to see significant progress on key parts of this expressway, such as the Rangiriri, Hamilton, Ngaruawahia and Cambridge bypasses over the next 10 years.
“In addition, the strategy proposes significant work on safety improvements on State Highway 2, and improvements to the roading network around Hamilton city to improve congestion, as well as tackling the Kopu Bridge, and the East Taupo arterial.”
Cr Macdonald commented that it was great to see that Transit's funding strategy, and the vision of the Regional Land Transport Committee were broadly aligned.
The draft strategy also makes a strong commitment to promoting the integration of transport planning with land use planning, as well as aiming to protect and improve rail corridors.
In addition, the strategy identifies the need for increased levels of service for passenger transport and Total Mobility services, including extending passenger transport in urban areas, and the trialling of more passenger transport in rural areas. The strategy aims to improve cycling and walking facilities in urban areas, and expansion into rural areas, where appropriate
The Draft Regional Land Transport Strategy will be formally adopted by Environment Waikato on 12 July, and then will be open for public submissions from 17 July to 18 August 2006. Once submissions open, anyone who wishes to get a copy of the draft strategy should contact Environment Waikato's Freephone 0800 800 401, or visit our website www.ew.govt.nz.