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Published: 2009-03-17 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Transport Committee chairman Norm Barker has welcomed the Government’s announcement of an extra $1 billion for state highways, which will help progress key roading projects like the Waikato Expressway.

Cr Barker, from Environment Waikato, said he would be seeking more detailed advice from Government agencies on how quickly the extra funding would benefit the Waikato.

"Finishing the Waikato Expressway is our region’s number one transport priority, so it’s great to see the Government making extra funding available to help complete state highway projects.

"It is also encouraging to see in yesterday’s statement from the Government that the Waikato Expressway headed the list of important roading projects cited as examples of work that could benefit from the extra $1 billion injection."

Cr Barker said the Waikato has had the highest road toll of any regional council area in the past two years, and that massive amounts of freight and tourist traffic are carried through and within the Waikato.

"Getting the Waikato Expressway completed quickly is not a ‘nice to have’. It is essential to cut fatalities and hospital admissions, and to maximize regional and national economic efficiency.

"Applying part of the $1 billion state highway funding injection promptly in the Waikato will therefore help save lives, keep people out of hospital and boost economic performance at a time when the country needs all the help it can get to weather the global financial situation."