Review of the Regional Land Transport Plan under way
A legally-required three-yearly review has begun of what is effectively the master plan for land transport right across Northland.
The Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP) 2015-2021 details local roading projects proposed by Northland's three district councils, state highway projects put forward by the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) and strategic projects and public transport matters dealt with by the Northland Regional Council (NRC).
Regional councillor John Bain says both the RLTP itself – and the reviews of it which must be done every three years – are a legal requirement.
Councillor Bain, who chairs the Northland Regional Transport Committee (RTC), says the latest review will focus on determining if the region's land transport problems, objectives and outcomes have changed significantly during the past three years.
"It will also ascertain if there are any new large roading projects that may need be included in the plan."
Councillor Bain says while the main responsibility to compile and review the RLTP lies with the regional council, the process is in fact a very collaborative one.
"Over the coming months, the review process will involve a tremendous deal of support and input from our partner organisations; the three district councils, NZTA as the state highway and national road funding body and the New Zealand Police."
He says the Regional Transport Committee acknowledges every effort must be made to secure the required national funding assistance and ensure that funding is spent where it will deliver the most benefit.
Councillor Bain says there are several very difficult land transport-related issues that still need to be resolved following the first three years of the RLTP.
"We're still faced with securing regional route resilience and security, addressing dust from unsealed roads, striving to reduce the region's poor road safety record and a continuing increase in the number of heavy vehicles on our roads."
Councillor Bain says the harsh reality is that there will never be enough funding – locally or nationally – to undertake all the desired construction, upgrading and maintenance work across the region’s transport infrastructure. Further complicating this is another serious issue; weather-related damage.
He says Northland has been struck by a number of damaging severe weather events in the past and unfortunately these will continue in the future.
“History has shown that the damage inflicted on land transport infrastructure is significant and has the potential to cause extensive and extended personal and economic hardship.”
However, Cr Bain says despite these challenges, Northland has also enjoyed some significant transport gains over the past two years including;
- The NZTA taking over Northland’s ‘Inland Freight Route’ (which includes Loop Road, Otaika Valley Road, Mangakahia Road and Te Pua Road) and turning it into State Highway 15. (This in turn has freed much-needed funding for local roading initiatives)
- Increased funding for road maintenance;
- Completion of the SH1 safety works on the north side of the Brynderwyns;
- Increased traction on the Northland to Auckland State Highway and the Twin Coast Discovery Route; and
- Commencement of the Mid-North Trial Bus Service;
“In addition to these, several key projects have begun and/or are nearing completion.”
He says this all helps Northland provide a better driving experience for locals and visitors alike as well as allow for easier movement of freight.
Councillor Bain says given there’s the potential for some new large-scale projects to be included in the RLTP review, a draft of the resulting revised RLTP will be released for region wide public comment.
“I expect this consultation process will begin later this year, early next year with the finalised RLTP being scheduled for release on 01 July 2018.”