The Government should spend more money improving roads vital
for primary production and tourism, Otago Regional Council
and Environment Southland staff say.
They were invited by the Government to help guide the next
three-year plan on land transport, which will set national
spending priorities for at least the next 10 years.
The Government policy statement (GPS) on land transport is
due to be released in the middle of the year, and will direct
annual Crown transport funding of about $3 billion.
It will not allocate funding for specific projects, but will
establish how much should be spent on different transport
activities through the national land transport programme.
At an Otago regional transport committee meeting in Dunedin
this week, staff suggestions from Environment Southland and
the Otago Regional Council were discussed and largely adopted
by committee members for submission to the Government.
They agreed priorities for the lower South Island of primary
production and tourism should be supported through Government
investment in roads which were vital to the sectors.
That included making sure there was adequate infrastructure
for seamless links between producers, processors and ports,
and properly maintaining or upgrading bridge crossings on
major tourism routes.
Staff said the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) appeared
to have insufficient funding to replace bridges on key routes
in a timely manner, such as the Kawarau Falls bridge on State
Highway 6 and the Beaumont bridge over the Clutha on State
The committee agreed funding should be provided to replace
bridges ''no longer functioning adequately''.
NZTA Otago-Southland highways manager Ian Duncan said all
bridges on the state highway network would be replaced before
they became unusable or unsafe.
But committee members said bridge renewal remained a priority
for Otago and Southland, and the state of some bridges was
concerning, and they should be replaced sooner rather than
Members also supported staff comment that district councils
in Southland struggled to meet their share of basic road
maintenance and renewal costs, because funding was ''very
constrained''. They said state highway projects with a high
priority in Otago and Southland might not proceed because
they had a low rank in a national context.
It was agreed that as the Government's contribution to land
transport depended on road user charges, fuel excise and
vehicle registrations, there was no incentive to invest in
activities which reduced vehicle dependence and congestion.
That conflicted with the desire to improve network energy
efficiency, which was an issue for urban areas including
Dunedin, the committee agreed.
''This principle is causing under-investment in walking and
cycling facilities, and public transport,'' staff reported.
The committee will submit a report to the Government
outlining transport issues for Otago and Southland.