Government won’t fund key Western Bay road… yet
|Ross Paterson now wants to make sure the project is not left out of the upcoming Government Policy Statement, which outlines the Government’s desired funding priorities for transport projects.|
The Tauranga Eastern Motorway is one of the largest roading projects ever planned in New Zealand and will cover 17km between the Te Maunga junction and Paengaroa.
Last week, the Government approved funding to fast-track roading projects as part of an infrastructure package designed to stimulate the economy but excluded both the Central Corridor Project and TEM.
Prior to the 2008 election, the National Party referred to both projects as a priority and more recently Minister of Transport Steven Joyce described TEM as one of six serious bottlenecks across New Zealand slowing down the entire country.
A team of leaders including the mayors and CEOs of the Western Bay of Plenty District Council and Tauranga City Council, along with Environment Bay of Plenty, are planning to meet with Steven to highlight the need for TEM to gain funding from the Government’s next funding announcements.
“We had an understanding that the Tauranga Eastern Motorway was a road of national significance. Steven Joyce had mentioned the importance of the motorway alongside other projects that were included in the infrastructure package.
“That was the word we got at the time of the election last year,” says Ross.
The project had passed major hurdles such as the hearings on earthworks and stormwater, land purchase is well down the track and resource consent is almost complete.
“If we got the money, we could have gone to tender for construction, that’s the stage we were at,” says Ross. Steven told The Weekend Sun the recent infrastructure stimulus package was only for transport projects that were consented and ready to go within 18 months to two years.
“This package is about bringing projects forward which would have happened later on,” says Steven.
Harry Wilson, NZTA regional director, says both the Central Corridor Project and TEM did not qualify to be included in the infrastructure package.
“The projects that were accelerated were selected by the NZTA because of their readiness to commence,” says Harry.
“As these two projects are still some way away from being consented, they do not fall into that category.”
Harry says design and consenting is underway for TEM, which he expects to be complete by the end of the year and then construction will go to tender if funding is granted.
He says the first stages of the Central Corridor Project, the Hairini Link, are in the feasibility phase but the project is some way from being consented.
TEM has an estimated cost of $475 million and before the election last year, National pledged $100 million for the Central Corridor Project.