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Published: 2004-04-07 00:00:00

New roading routes should be identified as early as possible and their designations completed, even the construction was decades years away, according to Regional Land Transport Committee chairman David Peart.

He told this month's Environment Waikato Council meeting that protecting roading routes had become extremely important. Environment Waikato had made a submission to Transit New Zealand on the draft Land Transport Programme for state highways in the Region, and Hamilton City Council had also made a strong submission in support of early designation.

The side effect of early designation was that Transit would become responsible for land purchase on a “willing seller” basis, so it would be spending money on land purchase rather than building anything. Cr Peart said the Council was still having to balance the strategic importance of highways with what was financially achievable. It was continuing to deal with incremental upgrades at the expense of longer-term strategic improvements.

“We will need to break out some of the process involved in strategic route construction, especially early identification of possible routes, and their designation should be completed, even if it is 20 to 30 years before construction.”

He said Hamilton airport - which has just announced extensive upgrades -would soon be involved in freight movement so routes east and north need to open up, affecting the urgency to complete the SH 1 expressway.