Parts of State Highway 6 will have median barriers installed, and local transport plans will have more funding than anticipated, after a Waka Kotahi announcement on Tuesday.
Parts of the highway between Blenheim and Nelson will have median barriers installed as part of a $289 million investment in the top of the south’s transport network.
The Nelson city and Tasman district councils welcomed the funding announcements on Tuesday – part of Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency’s $24.3 billion land transport programme for the next three years.
There had been earlier fears from councils around the country that the agency programme would be cut back, leading to concerns about local road maintenance.
Median barriers were signalled as the next big safety project for State Highway 6 between Blenheim and Nelson, almost a year after its speed limits were slashed from 100kmh to as low as 60kmh in places.
The wire barriers reduce the risk of head on collisions.Waka Kotahi did not disclose where along the highway the safety barriers would be installed, but funding tables showed the project would take place before next July and cost $249,700.
Nelson City council chair of the regional transport committee Brian McGurk said Nelson had “done reasonably well out of this [funding announcement]”.
In fact, Nelson had been granted more funding for local road maintenance than it had originally requested – $26.3 million rather than the $24m it asked for.
He also said there had been a “huge uplift” in public transport funding.
“We did a general regional transport plan, and Waka Kotahi have funded that …that was for things that people were asking for, more routes going to more places more frequently.”
The announcement also brought some more certainty to the ongoing Nelson Future Access Project, with a confirmation that Waka Kotahi would fund the detailed business case for the project.
There was also additional funding for improved freight connections to the port and airport on State Highway 6.
Tasman District mayor Tim King said the land transport package was “really positive news”.
It meant the council could do the “majority” of what it had planned to do.
“The one area where there’s still significant shortfall is around public transport service provision.”
He said the planned “step-change” for three years’ time for public transport in the region, including increased services and new routes, might need a “re-think” unless funding changed in the meantime.
The Nelson City Council received a significant boost in public transport funding, and while the two councils shared some public transport plans, King said it would take a bit more time to see how the division of funding between TDC and NCC would play out.
“A significant part of that [public transport funding] for us was for going further out into the region, the other part was in terms of increased frequency. Nelson’s funding may have an affect, but it will take some time to work through that.”
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