More funding announced for rural road safety

While most Ministers are on holiday Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter has been busy promoting road safety. Today she announced extra funding for rural state highways across Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, Manawatu-Wanganui and the West Coast. This follows earlier programmes to improve roads in The original Safety Boost Programme which made improvements in Northland, Taranaki, Manawatū-Wanganui, Otago and Southland.

This looks timed to try to address road toll news over the holiday period and end of year.

Extra Boost for Rural Road Safety

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter today announced an extension of the Government’s Safety Boost Programme to prevent deaths and serious injuries on rural New Zealand roads.

“The Boost Programme will target 11 rural State highways that might not have high levels of traffic but still have plenty of risks like sharp corners and narrow stretches,” said Julie Anne Genter.

“The Boost Programme includes simple safety upgrades that can be installed quickly over the summer period, such as rumble strips roadside safety barriers in high-risk locations, shoulder widening, and improved signage.

“Rumble strips can reduce fatal run-off-road crashes by up to 42 percent. Shoulder widening at high risk sights can reduce serious crashes by up to 35 percent.

This summer’s Safety Boost is part of the $1.4 billion Safe Network Programme (SNP) – a collaborative, prioritised programme of proven safety improvements on high risk routes across New Zealand. The 670 kilometres of road upgrades in the Boost Programme is additional to the 870 kilometres of upgrades to high volume, high-risk State Highways in the SNP.

Extra Safety Boost for Manawatu-Wanganui Roads

The NZ Transport Agency will invest $20 million in lower cost safety improvements on rural State highways. This will include five Manawatu-Wanganui roads:

  • SH56: Makerua (SH57) to Palmerston North
  • SH57: SH3 to SH56
  • SH3: Palmerston North to Ashhurst
  • SH4: Whanganui to Raetihi
  • SH54: SH3 to Feilding

Extra Safety Boost for West Coast Roads

This will include two West Coast roads:

  • SH6 and SH67: Murchison to Westport
  • SH7: Hanmer Springs to Reefton

Extra Safety Boost for Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay Roads

The NZ Transport Agency will invest $20 million in lower cost safety improvements on rural State highways. This will include four Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay roads:

  • SH2: Wairoa to Gisborne
  • SH35: Gisborne to Tolaga Bay
  • SH2: Gisborne to Matawai
  • SH5: SH2 to Te Haroto.

This can’t be annual budget spending. It must either be from a general roading fund or from some roading related tax.

National’s campaign on roading

The National Opposition has revved up early in the political year with a campaign on roading. Over the last two days they have launched a number of press releases and petitions:

National Party launches bid to save highway projects

The National Party has today launched a series of petitions aimed at saving regional highway projects at risk because of the Government’s obsession with Auckland trams…

MPs launch bid to save road of national significance

National MPs Todd Muller, MP for Bay of Plenty and Scott Simpson, MP for Coromandel have today launched a campaign to ensure the Katikati to Tauranga four-lane Road of National Significance proceeds as planned by the previous National Government.

Four-lanes crucial to Canterbury growth

Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon has today launched a petition aimed at saving plans to extend State Highway 1 between Christchurch and Ashburton to four lanes.

Tauranga to Hamilton expressway extension at risk

National’s petition to extend the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to Tirau and from Cambridge to the Kaimai Range was launched today, announced MPs for Tauranga and Hamilton East…

Napier to Hastings Expressway at risk

MP for Tukituki Lawrence Yule has today launched a petition aimed at saving the project that would ensure the four laning of the Napier to Hastings Expressway…

Waimak MP backs petition to save motorway project

MP for Waimakariri Matt Doocey says the Christchurch Northern Motorway from Belfast to Pegasus should not be put at risk while the Government attempts to divert billions of dollars…

Petition launched to support East-West Link

National MPs Denise Lee, Simeon Brown and Jami-Lee Ross have today launched a petition to gather support for the East-West Link which is now uncertain under the new Government.

Until now the Government has seemed to be on holiday, but this has dragged Minister of Transport Phil Twyford into the new year in a hurry. He has responded in part.

ODT: Transport concerns unfounded: minister

Suggesting the Government was not going ahead with roading projects which do not exist is misleading, a spokeswoman for Transport Minister Phil Twyford says.

Responding to National Party transport spokeswoman Judith Collins claims the Government was diverting financing, Mr Twyford’s spokeswoman said the New Zealand Transport Agency had advised funding for road upgrades could not be redirected into rail.

“National’s concerns are unfounded. The Mill Rd Corridor upgrade is an Auckland Transport project and planning is continuing.

“The Labour-led Government has not altered any existing roading projects except Auckland’s East-West link and officials are working to identify a lower-cost, better-value option.”

Mr Twyford’s spokeswoman said it was important to note the other “highway projects” referred to in National’s petition did not exist.

They were election campaign promises made by National in August last year and never costed or funded.

“To suggest the Government isn’t going ahead with projects that don’t exist is misleading. And to suggest non-existing funding be diverted into rail is nonsensical.”

National’s spokesperson for Transport, Judith Collins, is coordinating the petitions.

Ms Collins launched national petitions yesterday aimed at saving national regional highway projects.

Regional highway projects were at risk because of the Government’s obsession with Auckland trams, she said.

Ms Collins said the Transport Minister now had several of those projects under review.

”That’s not good enough. Our regional communities deserve them and the National Party is committed to fighting for them.”

Twyford has a lot on his ministerial plates -n he has already been put under the Housing spotlight. It looks likke being a busy year for him.

Cross-party support for earthquake legislation

Parliamentary parties are working together on emergency legislation to help sort things out after the earthquakes.

NZ Herald: Emergency quake legislation on the way after cross-party meeting

The Government has today met with opposition parties to discuss what emergency legislation could be introduced to skirt usual consenting processes and aid the earthquake recovery.

A spokeswoman for Acting Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee confirmed the approach.

“There was a cross-party meeting this morning to discuss legislative options but it is very early days.”

Labour Party leader Andrew Little, speaking to the Herald from Kaikoura, has indicated his party will support the emergency legislation.

“The Government put up the things they have in mind. All the parties were there. There are more meetings to go before legislation is introduced, which the plan is to be next week.

“We have indicated support, subject to appropriate checks and balances…but our people who were [at the meeting] described it as constructive.”

It’s good to see this inclusiveness, putting the needs of the affected people and regions first.

Little said he believed the Government had learned lessons after the introduction of emergency legislation following the Canterbury earthquakes.

“I think it [emergency legislation] is natural in order to get stuff done – particularly now you have a town the size of Kaikoura and its importance to the tourist industry totally isolated at the moment, you do want some expedited powers.

Little has taken a responsible approach to the earthquakes, and has been included from the start by the Government in assessing the damage and the problems.

The Whale Watch boat berths have been uplifted and can now only be used at high tide.

Yesterday Little said that repairs to the harbour at Kaikoura should be fast tracked rather than go through a lengthy consent process so that tourist and fishing businesses can resume as soon as possible.

But there may be some tensions.

The road freighting industry has lobbied the Government not to be “sensitive” about repairing SH1 and to bulldoze rubble into the sea.

Some of the slips have already covered sea shores. If they were left to weather naturally there would be further subsidence into the sea, it is part of normal erosion processes. But:

Green Party primary industries spokesperson Eugenie Sage said today that view was shortsighted.

“Fixing the road and rail links is obviously quite critical and urgent, but dumping thousands of tonnes of rubble into the sea risks killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

“Nature-based tourism, whale-watching, swimming with dolphins and fisheries like the cray and paua fisheries are absolutely critical to Kaikoura’s economy.”

Whales and dolphins shouldn’t be an issue, they are found further out to sea.

Seals congregate and breed on the rocky shores. They will have been affected but their numbers have increased markedly over that last fifty years so should have no trouble re-establishing themselves.

The crayfish and paua fisheries have already been badly affected by the natural affects of the earthquakes, in the main by uplift of shallow shores.

“We don’t want to reestablish the transport link at the expense of a healthy coastal marine environment and healthy fisheries.”.

In the main it’s unlikely that pushing slip debris a bit further out into the sea will have a major effect. Obviously they will have to take care if any of the slips are in ecologically sensitive areas, but the vast majority of the coastline will remain unaffected by slip debris.

It will be good if all parties are on board with emergency legislation.