Scrapped Auckland harbour bridge cycleway could fund regional roads

8:09 pm on 7 October 2021

Waka Kotahi the New Zealand Transport Agency says funding from Auckland's scrapped 'Skypath' harbour bridge cycleway could be redirected to regional roads, such as Rotorua.

 Rotorua Lakes Council.Photo / File

Photo: LDR / Andrew Warner

Waka Kotahi system design regional manager Jess Andrew made the comments at a Rotorua Lakes Council Operations and Monitoring Committee meeting on Thursday in response to a question from Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick.

Chadwick asked if it would be possible to fund phases two and three of stage two of the State Highway Eastern Corridor project from the funding from the abandoned Auckland harbour bridge walking and cycleway project.

Phase two and three of stage two covered Ōwhata Rd to the Airport and featured three intersection upgrades and a new airport entrance, as well as the introduction of four lanes between Basley Rd and Brent Rd.

Funding for those upgrades was dependent on "housing and economic growth" according to Andrew's presentation.

"The frustration is blindingly obvious to us about stage two," Chadwick said.

"We worked very hard with the community … and we really want to finish the four-laning to the airport.

"I know this sounds a bit cute, but now you're not doing the Auckland harbour bridge cycleway, is there any chance for us to have a crack at getting some of that funding, or is it earmarked just for investment in Auckland?

"We really want to see it done."

Andrew said there was indeed money that had come available due to the scrapped project, and she believed it was likely there would be other funding opportunities available in the next three years, particularly that focusing on housing and travel mode shift.

"There is also the option as we get to the end of the three years … it may be that some other things haven't been delivered there is some money available."

The three years referred to a "record" $24.3 billion government investment in land transport, announced on 7 September, aimed at roading upgrades until 2024.

Andrew said Waka Kotahi could not make any promises but she said stage two of the Eastern Corridor project was "well-placed" for any funding opportunities due to the groundwork that had already been done on it.

Phase one of stage two, from Iles Rd to Coulter Rd, had received $35 million funding from Crown Infrastructure Partners as part of last year's shovel-ready projects, and construction had begun on it.

Stage one, from Sala St to Iles Rd, was on track for completion at the end of the year, Andrew said.

She said Waka Kotahi data had observed a reduction in traffic queues and delays on the road since the introduction of traffic lights at the Tarawera Rd intersection.

The final layer of surfacing was due to be laid by mid-October and works on that stretch were now focused on completing landscaping and the shared path, she said. Completion was due at the end of 2021.

Another as-yet unfunded upgrade was for the State Highway 30 central corridor - Amohau St, from Old Taupō Rd to Sala St.

Andrew said those works were worth about $22m, but it was also a project that was "really well set up to look at [funding] opportunities as they arise" as detailed design had been completed.

Work on State Highway 30/33 Te Ngae Junction, aimed at constructing a new roundabout at the intersection, had secured funding for detailed design work, with initial investigation work was under way. Detailed design was due to be complete in late 2021 and construction was estimated to begin in early 2022.

Work on State Highway 33 Te Ngae Junction to Paengaroa, which installed wide shoulders and a centreline and roadside barriers in high risk locations, was in the final stages of construction.

The 34km project was expected to be completed in late 2022.

Councillor Fisher Wang said there was concern about Dansey Rd and State Highway 5 and Oturoa Rd and State Highway 5 but understood it had been "labelled as not a priority".

Andrew confirmed it was not currently a priority but Waka Kotahi was "aware of some of the challenges" in those areas.

Deputy mayor Dave Donaldson asked if completion dates of mid-October - only a week away - for the Ngongotahā roundabout and other works was "still valid".

Andrew said the projects were "still on track despite Covid and the weather".

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