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Published: 2012-09-04 00:00:00

A united bid from all councils in the Waikato has helped secure up to $1.3 billion in Government funding for the region’s transport activities over the next 3 years.

The regional transport committee yesterday heard details of the NZ Transport Agency’s (NZTA) three-year funding programme for Waikato’s land transport system. 

“There have been significant wins in transport funding for this region, which shows how strong regional collaboration can draw a huge amount of investment to the Waikato,” said committee chairman and Waikato regional councillor Norm Barker. 

The Waikato was the first region to adopt its Regional Land Transport Programme (RLTP). The RLTP adopted in May was the basis for the region requesting central government funding for all transport activities in the Waikato over the next three years. 

The RLTP supported spending of $1.141 billion in transport projects for the region. 

Cr Barker said members of the regional transport committee were pleased overall with the funding outcome for the region. 

The majority of the funding will go to the ongoing construction of the Waikato Expressway, with the Te Rapa, Ngaruawahia and Rangiriri sections to be completed in stages by 2015. Construction of the Cambridge-Tamahere section is expected to start in 2013/14. 

“Waipa residents and people south will be excited to hear there has been a commitment to building of the Cambridge-Tamahere bypass. There could be significant time savings for motorists, who can get held up in Cambridge with congestion,” Cr Barker said. 

Investment of $485 million has been committed to the maintenance, operation and renewal of state highways and local roads, which will also contribute to improved safety. 

Road safety projects for the Waikato have also received a $7 million funding boost from Government. Activities to improve safety and reduce Waikato’s road toll were given a high priority by the committee in the RLTP. 

Year to date figures show a decline in the number of fatalities, down from 43 at the same time last year to 36 so far this year. However, this is not being reflected in the number of serious injuries being sustained in Waikato crashes, predominantly on local roads. 

Analysis shows the majority of these crashes are occurring mid-block and not at intersections, during the day and on dry roads. 

Meanwhile, the NZTA had already indicated the majority of the country’s new public transport funding would go to areas like Auckland where traffic congestion is an issue, Cr Barker said. “So it is no surprise that funding for public transport in the Waikato will enable services to be maintained at current levels. 

“However, it comes at a time when we are achieving record numbers of passenger trips on our services across the region, exceeding the five million mark for the first time,” Cr Barker said. 

The committee heard that growth is due in part to the success of regional services from Cambridge and Te Awamutu to Hamilton introduced in 2011, as well as good patronage on the Huntly buses. Bus passenger trips in Hamilton have also risen. 

Other activities to be funded include:

  • safety improvements to the SH1/SH5 intersection at Tirau and SH1/SH29 intersection at Piarere
  • improvements of the intersection of Cambridge and Morrinsville roads
  • long term planning investigations for  SH3 and SH5
  • investigations into SH1 and SH29 as heavy vehicle routes, with some construction works planned for 2014/15
  • transport planning ($6 million)
  • walking and cycling ($2.5 million).

Read the Waikato Regional Land Transport Programme