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Prime Minister John Key has announced $212 million from the Future Investment Fund for a package of "14 regionally important State highway projects."
The PM used his key note speech on day two of National's annual conference to announce the new policy.
The pre-election pork seems to be aimed at criticism his government has been light on regional development.
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says the government is committing up to $80 million from the package to accelerate five "critically important regional projects", with work beginning next year (assuming a National-led government is still power).
Labour leader David Culiffe accused National of a U-turn on roading.
“After six years in office and three months out from the election, the government has suddenly decided to return some of the road funding it took from the regions to pay for its $12 billion ‘roads of national significance’," Mr Cunliffe said in a statement.
“Labour has made it clear that this funding needed to be restored, but I think most New Zealanders will be wondering why the government hasn’t come up with a decent plan to create real wealth and grow jobs in the regions." Mr Cunliffe maintains his party's Economic Upgrade series of policies will bring broad-based growth to provincial NZ.
The five projects announced by Key and Browlee today are:
- Kawarau Falls Bridge, in Otago
- Mingha Bluff to Rough Creek realignment, in Canterbury
- Akerama Curves Realignment and Passing Lane, in Northland
- State Highway 35 Slow Vehicle Bays, in Gisborne
- Normanby Overbridge Realignment, in Taranaki.
“These projects are fully investigated and designed, and address current safety, resilience or productivity issues, but construction wasn’t due to begin until late this decade or after 2020,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Following today’s announcement construction on these projects could begin in 2014/15, and be completed by 2016/17.
“The government is committed to fund the next six projects with an additional $115 million and subject to the usual investigations, construction would be expected to begin within three years on each of these projects.
The six projects are:
- Whirokino Trestle Bridge replacement, in Manawatu/Wanganui
- Motu Bridge replacement, in Gisborne
- Opawa and Wairau Bridge replacements, in Marlborough
- Taramakau Road/Rail Bridge, on the West Coast
- Loop road north to Smeatons Hill safety improvements, in Northland
- Mt Messenger and Awakino Gorge Corridor, in Taranaki.
“A further $12 million will be available to accelerate investigation and design of three large projects in Hawke’s Bay, Nelson and the Bay of Plenty,” Mr Brownlee says.
These projects are:
- Port of Napier access package, in Hawke’s Bay
- Nelson Southern Link, in Nelson
- Rotorua Eastern Arterial, in Bay of Plenty.
“Each project could then be considered for funding under the proposed Regional Improvements activity class in the next Government Policy Statement on land transport.
“By directly funding some of the most crucial State highway improvements, the government is freeing up more funding in the Regional Improvements activity class for other priority projects.
“This funding package also strongly complements the government’s Roads of National Significance programme, ensuring people and freight reach their destinations quickly and safety,” Mr Brownlee says.
Links to maps and descriptions of each project:
· Kawarau Falls Bridge, in Otago –
· Mingha Bluff to Rough Creek realignment, in Canterbury –
· Akerama Curves Realignment and Passing Lane, in Northland –
· State Highway 35 Slow Vehicle Bays, in Gisborne –
· Normanby Overbridge Realignment, in Taranaki –
· Whirokino Trestle Bridge replacement, in Manawatu/Wanganui –
· Motu Bridge replacement, in Gisborne –
· Opawa and Wairau Bridges replacements, in Marlborough –
· Taramakau Road/Rail Bridge, on the West Coast –
· Loop Road North to Smeatons Hill safety improvements, in Northland –
· Mt Messenger and Awakino Gorge Corridor, in Taranaki –
· Port of Napier access package, in Hawke’s Bay –
· Nelson Southern Link, in Nelson
· Rotorua Eastern Arterial, in Bay of Plenty