A plan for Waikato’s land transport system – which affects everyone who drives, walks, cycles or uses public transport – has been approved for public consultation.
Submissions open this Friday (9 March) on the draft Waikato Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP) – a document that sets the direction our transport system will take in the future, and specifically over the next 10 years.
“This is an exciting time to be looking at transport planning, particularly with the Government taking a real interest in planning, with different priorities to those held by the previous Government,” regional transport committee chair and Waikato regional councillor, Hugh Vercoe, said on Monday.
“There are issues we need to address in the Waikato. Tremendous growth and development in some parts of the region is putting pressure on our existing transport networks,” Mr Vercoe said.
“We’re still seeing unacceptably high numbers of deaths and injuries on our roads, so we need to find a better way to address this serious road safety issue. Today’s rapidly changing social, economic and technological landscape will ultimately result in a different land transport system to what we currently have.”
The draft transport plan has been prepared by the Waikato regional transport committee, comprising elected members from the regional council, all the local territorial councils, and representatives from the NZ Transport Agency and NZ Police. It details the significant transport activities the region’s councils want central government funding for.
The number 1 priority in the plan is the completion of the current sections of the Waikato Expressway, followed by the extension of the expressway from Cambridge to the Piarere SH1/29 intersection, with recognition that this will bring even more regional and national economic and safety benefits. The plan also gives high priority to projects providing high safety outcomes.
Other high priorities include the Southern Links package of transport projects to support the Peacocke development growth cell in Hamilton. There are also projects to improve public transport and cycleways, and to ensure road resilience to climate change.
There is a new priority supporting passenger rail from Hamilton to Auckland, with the plan acknowledging both the interim short term solution as well as the longer term objectives.
The RLTP also supports interregional projects between the Waikato and neighbouring regions such as Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki. “A good example of this is the support for rail improvements in the Auckland region so we’ll be able to move both freight and passengers more efficiently on the rail network,” Mr Vercoe said.
“The Waikato is in the heart of the upper North Island economic and transport system. Our road and rail corridors are used to move freight to and from the ports of Auckland and Tauranga, and they transport visitors to some of the country’s top tourism hotspots. And, of course, our land transport system is used by the people of the Waikato in their everyday life, whether they’re getting from A to B by private motor vehicle, public transport, foot or bike.
“That’s why I strongly encourage the people of the Waikato to take this opportunity to have their say on the plan for our transport network’s future,” Mr Vercoe said.
Submissions are open for a month, closing on Monday 9 April. Go to waikatoregion.govt.nz/submit-rltp(external link) to have your say. The final plan will be adopted by Waikato Regional Council on Thursday 28 June.