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Driving ahead with roads of regional significance

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Staff Reporter

13 May 2024, 7:00 PM

Driving ahead with roads of regional significanceNew transport initiative to enhance connectivity

The coalition Government is set to introduce Roads of Regional Significance, a new initiative aimed at complementing the existing Roads of National Significance programme, Transport Minister Simeon Brown announced today.

Brown emphasised the success of the Roads of National Significance (RoNS) established by the previous National Government, citing their effectiveness in reducing congestion and enhancing safety along key State Highway corridors.

"These projects have significantly improved connectivity within New Zealand," Brown stated. "Expanding this approach to include regionally significant roads will further bolster our transportation network and support economic growth."

Under the new initiative, priority will be given to essential routes identified as crucial for regional connectivity.

This move comes in response to challenges faced by the previous government's management of the NZ Upgrade Programme (NZUP), which experienced substantial cost overruns and project delays.

"When we took office, we inherited a funding shortfall of up to $1.5 billion for NZUP projects," Brown revealed. "This, coupled with escalating costs and project cancellations, necessitated a reassessment of our approach."

Finance Minister Nicola Willis and Transport Minister Simeon Brown have delegated decision-making authority for project scope and delivery to the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA), aiming to streamline decision-making processes and minimise delays.

"Moving forward, NZTA will oversee the implementation of two Roads of National Significance and ten Roads of Regional Significance," Brown explained.

"Additionally, two projects will be integrated into the Mill Road and Whangarei to Port Marsden Roads of National Significance."

Acknowledging the need to manage costs effectively, Brown underscored the government's commitment to delivering these projects within the existing funding allocation of $6.54 billion, without seeking additional Crown funding.

"The announcement brings much-needed certainty to communities nationwide that stand to benefit from these vital infrastructure investments," Brown affirmed.

"Our goal is to create a transport system that enhances productivity, supports economic development, and ensures the safety and convenience of all New Zealanders."

The introduction of Roads of Regional Significance marks a significant step towards realising the government's vision for a well-connected and resilient transportation network, contributing to the country's long-term prosperity.