A billion dollar transport ad billed as a way to keep the economy buzzing has been called a “missed opportunity.”
The government announced on Tuesday its commitment to invest $ 1.4 billion for transportation in the region over three years as part of its 2021-24 national land transport program.
The Waikato will receive $ 1.5 billion in funding.
This includes the completion of the $ 10.5 million underpass on SH21 Airport Rd at Tamahere, with a passage for the Cambridge-Hamilton shared walking / biking trail; the completion of the $ 637 million Hamilton section of the Waikato Highway; $ 298.5 million to improve security in 15 high-risk corridors; and $ 20 million for the Te Huia Hamilton-Auckland rail service, with an additional $ 2 million to introduce off-peak service.
Transport Minister Michael Wood said it would boost economic recovery by supporting thousands of jobs, but National transport spokesman and Hamilton East-based List MP David Bennett criticized the announcement, calling it a “political whim” and a “missed opportunity” for economic recovery.
“It’s a political announcement. They focused on their favorite projects rather than projects that would actually improve New Zealand’s economy, ”he says.
“We’re going to go through tough times and if you look at other countries around the world, what they do with their transportation spending in tough times is projects that develop and strengthen a country’s economic potential.
“If you look at the Waikato, Hamilton’s growth is largely based on the development of the Waikato Freeway. This link with Auckland meant that the north of Hamilton developed and it meant that the industrial south and Cambridge developed. “
The next priority identified for the region was the road to Tauranga, to stimulate economic growth, he said.
“In return…[however], they focused on political issues – public transport, walking and cycling. It’s not about building national roads because politically they just don’t believe in these projects.
“They just follow up on many projects that had already started or progressed in previous years. Expenses announced [on Tuesday] was an opportunity where we could have used [it] to boost New Zealand’s economic growth.
Wood, however, says the government is listening to community concerns. He also attacked the former government, which he said had “fixed road maintenance expenses”.
“Our government has listened to the concerns of local government and communities and we have stepped in to provide $ 2 billion in funding to boost road maintenance and public transportation. We couldn’t accept that our roads were deteriorating, ”he said.
“Almost $ 7 billion will be invested in the maintenance of local roads and state highways, which will renew approximately 7,000 kilometers of highway lanes and 18,000 kilometers of local road lanes. “
Reducing emissions and the impacts of climate change has also been built into the plan, he said.
“We know we need to continue to reduce emissions and traffic congestion by giving Kiwis more choice of transportation. This NLTP marks a radical change with nearly $ 6 billion invested in public transport, walking and cycling, an increase of almost 40% over the previous three years, ”he said.
Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said the announcement was mixed.
The funding for the extension of Borman Rd to Rototuna was fantastic, as was the money for the Eastern Pathways project to provide better biking and walking options.
However, the council missed the funding it wanted for the cycling and micro-mobility projects, which Southgate said she would discuss more with Waka Kotahi.