The mayors and chairs of the Horizons Region are pleased to hear that the Ōtaki to North of Levin corridor and the Capital Connection commuter train have all been included in Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s infrastructure investment announcements today.
Regional mayors and chairs have worked hard and continue to do so to advocate for government involvement in regional transport infrastructure.
Horowhenua mayor Bernie Wanden says regional mayors and chairs, through Accessing Central New Zealand, worked together to advance the case for the Otaki to North of Levin (O2NL) designation which was approved at the end of last year.
“To hear the project has been upgraded to four lanes and a construction work programme will now also be progressed is welcomed news,” says Mayor Wanden.
“Anyone who has driven this part of the state highway network will know first-hand it is a bottleneck with significant safety issues.
“We had been told the road would not be built for at least another 10 years due to heavily constrained funding. We are pleased that central government has realised any delay would not only increase the price but have a detrimental effect on urban growth and economic development opportunities for our part of the Lower North Island.”
Horizons Regional Council has been working with Greater Wellington Regional Council on a Lower North Island Passenger Rail business case says Horizons Chair Rachel Keedwell.
“It is pleasing to see that Wellington’s commuter rail network has received $211 million for improvements to the connections between Wellington, the Wairarapa and Palmerston North.
“Horizons ratepayers have contributed significant investment to retain the Capital Connection over the past three years, so it is welcome news that central government will assist in keeping this service viable for a few more years.
“However, to keep this service viable beyond the short term and to provide better transport options for our communities, we will need further commitment from central government for stronger passenger rail connections between Palmerston North and Wellington,” says Chair Keedwell.
“Our original business case proposes up to two to four return trips between Palmerston North and the Capital both weekdays and weekends that will not only provide better passenger transport options for our workforce who commutes this route, it will replace end of life stock, offer solutions to urban growth in the southern part of our region, improve road safety issues, and increase awareness of vehicle emissions and their impact on climate change.
“The funding in this current package will not provide the new units or all of the infrastructure required to improve the service in the long-term.
“We look forward to working with government to secure a permanent future for this service.
“Today’s announcement of investment in our region supports the dedication our mayors, chairs, business leaders, iwi, and transport agencies such as NZTA have been working on through Accessing Central New Zealand to collaboratively prioritise connected, safe, resilient and cohesive transport networks to, from and within the Manawatū-Whanganui Region.
“While we were hoping to hear funding would also be awarded to the Palmerston North Integrated Transport Improvements project to ensure logistics, freight and people can move safely and efficiently throughout our region and beyond, as well as a permanent, long-term solution for State Highway 4’s on Parapara Road that was affected by an underslip in September last year, we are pleased that government recognises the importance roading and rail infrastructure plays in local economies.
“We look forward to the successful programmes progressing quickly, however we will continue to advocate for further investment in our region.”
For further information, please contact Chrissie Morrison, Media and Communications Manager, Horizons Regional Council, on email@example.com , 027 695 9747.
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