Whangārei’s shared paths will receive funding for new and improved connections. Photo / Tania Whyte
Northland’s three district councils are set to receive a share of a $350m Government package to improve cycling, walking and public transport facilities.
In the Far North, around $3m from the funding has been earmarked
for three different projects.
A project to provide formal bus stops and shelters on Far North and Mid-North bus routes will receive $1.6m. The routes were originally set up on a trial basis and did not have formal stops or signs marking the routes.
Another $955,000 has been allocated for cycle lanes and traffic calming measures on Hone Heke Rd, between Cobham Rd and Kerikeri Rd, in Kerikeri.
A third project to create safe cycling environments on quiet streets in Kerikeri, was set to cost around $390,000 but was dependent on timelines and other details being finalised.
Far North mayor Moko Tepania said he was “stoked” to have the funding for the Far North.
“Provincial communities often feel left out when it comes to the funding of projects like this so this is an excellent success and I look forward to seeing more.”
Kerikeri would benefit hugely from cycle lanes enabling safe travel, and the bus improvement would provide a safer experience for users of the Far North and Mid-North link, Tepania added.
In Kaipara, approximately $8m is being provided to Kaipara District Council for designated cycle lanes and shared paths in Dargaville.
Calvin Thomas, general manager of the Northland Transportation Alliance said the improvements would provide a safer transport network for the local community.
“Dargaville’s urban area is small enough that it is only a short trip to get anywhere about town, even if a person lives in the outer areas.”
In Whangārei, projects include a dedicated bus lane on Maunu Rd/SH14, upgrades to public transport facilities in the CBD and new and improved connections to the Kamo and Raumanga shared paths.
Whangārei MP Emily Henderson said the announcement was “fantastic news” for the community and would make transport infrastructure safer, greener and more efficient.
“Delivering on these projects will help address our current infrastructure deficit while also meeting future needs caused by population growth and climate change.”
Whangārei District Council was unable to confirm finer details of the projects and funding by edition time yesterday.
Waka Kotahi manager urban mobility, Kathryn King, said the programme was supporting councils to give people more options in how they travel.
“I’m pleased to say we received an outstanding response from councils around the country, embracing the opportunity to provide greater transport choices for their communities.
“The aim is to open up streets so everyone can get where they need to go in ways that are good for their health and the planet.”
AA Northland District Council chairwoman Tracey Rissetto said more funding for cycleways, shared paths and public transport was a positive step but there were other safety improvements she would like to see first.
“It’s always good to see the Minister of Transport open his pockets but we would like to see it focused a bit differently.”
The safety and condition of the highways in Northland was a major issue, Rissetto said, and the AA Northland District Council would like to see safety improvements such as flexible median barriers before walking and cycling infrastructure improvements.
“We’re not all about cars. We understand that there does need to be a shift in the mode of transport, it’s just that our roads are unsafe.”
The Government is trying to do too many things at once, she added, with the Road to Zero programme to cut the road toll and attempting to address climate change.
“The Road to Zero programme is not really working in Northland,” Rissetto said.
Safety improvements for cyclists and pedestrians were important, she said, but the biggest issue was that Northland’s state highways were not being adequately maintained or improved.
Rissetto said she was glad that the funding for the Transport Choices package did not come out of the roading budget, but Government funding was still too thinly-spread.
Forty-six councils across the country would receive funding as part of the package.
Transport Minister Michael Wood said the projects would help make towns and cities more people-friendly places and would also help reduce emissions.
“It’s just one initiative within our decarbonisation plan that will enable people across the country to directly help fight climate change.
“Emissions are not just an urban issue, we’re all going to have to work together to create a better future.”
The Transport Choices package is just one initiative within the Government’s decarbonisation plan, Wood said.
There is a two-stage process for programme proposals, with the first stage involving refining proposals. Construction was expected to begin on some proposals by June 2023.
Funding for projects is currently indicative only and may be adjusted after consultation between Waka Kotahi and councils.