Otago, Southland to develop combined land transport strategy

In a move to increase their ''political heft'', the transport committees of Otago and Southland are joining forces to develop a combined regional land transport plan.

RLTPs outline the roading projects regions want completed during a three-year period and require national funding.

The present plans run out in 2015, so councils have started to look at transport priorities for the next three years, 2015 to 2018.

The transport committees of both Otago and Southland regional councils held a joint meeting last month and decided to recommend to each council that a joint plan be developed.

''There was a significant amount of enthusiasm for this,'' Otago Land Transport Committee chairman Cr Trevor Kempton said at a regional council meeting yesterday.

The two regions' roading networks were closely integrated with most tourists and freight having to go through Otago to get to Southland.

Projects to be included in plans such as the future of the Kawarau Falls Bridge were of economic importance to both regions.

Southland's transport budget was about $200 million and Otago's $400 million, so by combining them, they had the ''political heft'' of $600,000 million, he said.

While the transport plan would be ''joint'', the two regional transport committees would remain separate bodies.

By adopting the report on the joint transport meeting, the regional council gave implicit approval to the concept of a joint plan, chairman Stephen Woodhead said.

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