Creating a safe, accessible, efficient, and connected transport system is the aim of the New Zealand Transport Agency (Waka Kotahi)’s National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) for 2018–21.
Big spending on roads
The $16.9 billion plan targets a range of areas, with roading getting the lion’s share. The most significant are: $5.7 billion on state highway and local road maintenance; $4.3 billion to reduce deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand roads; $3.1 billion on public transport (a record spend); $1.3 billion on local road improvements; $1.1 billion on road policing; and $390 million on walking and cycling facilities.
The agency says one of the key aims is to support economic growth, both in the cities and regions. It will improve both the State Highway network and regional roads, including replacing “end-of-life” bridges.
By investing more in cycling and public transport, the Government wants to reduce the number of single-occupant cars on the road. This will have numerous benefits: most notably, reducing congestion and improving health and the environment. Fewer cars will also free up roads for trucks carrying vital supplies, and increase economic growth.
“Significant investment will be made throughout the country to improve freight connections to ports, airports and distribution centres, as well as extending network access that supports high productivity motor vehicles (HPMVs),” the agency says.
Fewer vehicles carrying more freight also have safety and environmental benefits.
Regional investment a priority
“In many regions, the resilience of key freight routes is critical to support regional economies. This is being addressed in the NLTP with investment in improvements on state highways and local roads, which are susceptible to frequent closures from severe weather events, climate change and crashes,” the agency says.
In Northland, the agency will strengthen alternate freight routes on local roads, ensuring there are good levels of service in the event of network disruption.
Completion of the Waikato Expressway in 2020 will support the movement of freight across the upper North Island, where freight volumes are forecast to grow by 59 percent in the next 30 years. The expressway will take 35 minutes off a trip from Auckland to south of Cambridge.
“While SH1/29 will remain the preferred route for road-based freight between Tauranga and Auckland, once the Waikato Expressway project is completed, other routes suitable for HPMVs will be developed to help move freight more effectively throughout this area,” the agency says
In the Gisborne region, HPMV strengthening will take place on SH2 Gisborne to Napier and Gisborne to Ōpōtiki routes, and 50MAX upgrades will be done at key locations.
In Taranaki, the focus is on ensuring there are safe, reliable and resilient freight routes. Heavy vehicles travel more than 75 million kilometres on Taranaki roads every year, supporting the oil and gas industry, forestry, and dairying.
In the Manawatū, work will progress on the Regional Freight Ring Road.
On the West Coast and in Otago/Southland, bridge replacements and upgrades on the state highway network will improve freight connections to enable HPMVs and 50MAX vehicles to access primary produce and get goods to market.
Completion of the Christchurch Motorways project will improve freight connections in Christchurch to Christchurch International Airport, Lyttelton Port, and southwest freight hubs, while in both mid and south Canterbury more local roads will have HPMV access.
Weigh Right roll-out
“Weigh Right” is a new program being rolled out across the country, which the agency says will reduce heavy vehicle overloading and improve productivity and safety.
Twelve weigh stations are being set up: Marsden (Northland); North Shore, Stanley Street and Bombay (Auckland); Tauranga Port; Paengaroa (Bay of Plenty); Taupo; Napier; Ohakea (Manawatū); Mackay’s Crossing (Wellington); Glasnevin (North Canterbury) and Rakaia (mid-Canterbury).
The weigh stations will be operational by December 2020, and will help increase productivity by reducing weigh station stops for compliant operators.
The program is supported by the development of a new easy-to-use heavy vehicle permitting system.
RTF condemns plan
Road Transport Forum RTF Chief Executive, Ken Shirley, has condemned the new National Land Transport Programme as “a missed opportunity”.
Shirley accuses the Government of politicising the fund. “Road user taxes – fuel excise, Road User Charges and vehicle registrations – are being diverted to pet political projects of dubious economic merit, while crucial roading projects are postponed indefinitely…
“The road transport industry is concerned that major highway projects such as an East-West Link alternative, Tauranga to Katikati, and Otaki to Levin are not going ahead. These projects are important for the free flow of freight around the country and would significantly improve the safety of key routes.
“On the bright side, it is good to see projects such as the Mt. Messenger Bypass and the Manawatū Gorge replacement route receiving the necessary funding.
“The Government’s increased focus on road safety is welcomed and the road transport industry will continue to support modal separation, median barriers and the development of other infrastructure to help improve the overall safety of our roads.
“It’s just a shame that the Government has had a bob each way on safety because one of the biggest contributions to safety comes through the development of new highways that are designed specifically to separate traffic and provide safe connectivity between communities.
“It is particularly disappointing that the Tauranga to Katikati motorway has not progressed. The road is experiencing ever-increasing traffic volumes and is extremely dangerous. While the Government has earmarked some safety improvements the only real solution is a four-lane motorway with appropriately controlled access points and separation of opposing traffic,” says Shirley.