National promises $140m for transport

A $140million transport package will help to "unlock the potential" of the South, National says.

Party transport spokesman Chris Bishop announced National’s Southern Transport Package at the Dunedin Railway Station yesterday.

It included roading improvements, bridge upgrades, and pledges to investigate both a heavy traffic bypass for Mosgiel and commuter rail between Mosgiel and Dunedin.

A large part of the announcement focused on safety improvements, including on State Highway1 between Mosgiel and Balclutha, where traffic had increased by about 13% in the past four years.

“National will fund and fast-track work on this stretch of highway, including widening the road and shoulders where possible in high-risk sections, putting in flexible roadside safety barriers to stop drivers running off the road."

It would also fund up to $400,000 for a trial and feasibility study into commuter rail from Mosgiel to Dunedin.

"Dunedinites have shown that there is interest in getting out of their cars and getting into rail in order to travel from Mosgiel to Dunedin and back and forth."

Work would begin immediately to include passing lanes and safety improvements on the road between Queenstown and Te Anau, while a systematic bridge upgrade programme would be funded over the next decade.

That would include funding and fast-tracking a replacement of the Beaumont Bridge.

National Party transport spokesman Chris Bishop (centre) announces the party’s 
...
National Party transport spokesman Chris Bishop (centre) announces the party’s southern transport policy flanked by Taieri candidate Liam Kernaghan (left), Invercargill candidate Penny Simmonds and Dunedin list candidate Michael Woodhouse. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON

 

There was also some funding for a cycle and walking trail, with an initial investment of $10million to ensure the Dunedin Tunnels Trail was delivered over the next decade.

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said the city had a target of net zero carbon by 2030, and any support for more investment in active and public transport was welcome.

The Dunedin Tunnels Trail was in the council’s 10-year plan, but "having someone else picking up the tab would be nice".

The $140million was part of National’s proposed $31billion nationwide transport infrastructure plan.

When asked if the South’s share was small compared with the rest of the country, Mr Bishop said it was a "significant package for a growing region and one that has huge potential, and we want to unlock that potential".

"That criticism might have some merit once the Labour Party actually announces something, but so far I think we’re winning."

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was also on the campaign trail in Dunedin yesterday.

She said the Government had invested about $1billion in transport infrastructure in the South this term.

"When it comes to proposals the likes of which we have seen from National, for us infrastructure projects are more than just roading projects and our focus has been, for instance, the investment in the construction hub, the hospital and Hillside, all aimed at creating a pipeline of working opportunity that is more than just roading."

— Additional reporting Mike Houlahan

daisy.hudson@odt.co.nz

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