It’s too early to tell if the government draft transport policy will be good for the Bay of Plenty, says BOP Regional Council Transport Committee chair Stuart Crosby.
The draft policy statement released yesterday shows the government intends to spend more on repairs and maintenance and public transport, at the expense of the new motorways favoured by the previous government.
It will all depend on how the New Zealand Transport Agency interprets the policy statement once it is finalised, says Stuart. And then applies that interpretation to their funding.
This will happen by the end of August this year.
“So it’s not far away, which is good. So we will have some certainty then,” says Stuart.
“I’m sure between now and then we will hear a lot more about how the government policy statement is to be implemented.
“But at this stage there seems to be a significant shift into public transport and other modes of transport which in itself is good.
“But we need to make sure that, particularly our state highway network is developed to cater for our growth, both in Tauranga, the Western Bay and the whole Bay of Plenty.
“I’ve no doubt that will be our political focus moving forward. The whole transport network we will be able to catch up and more importantly plan ahead.”
A concern is the proposed 11 percent reduction in state highway spending, but how that will impact on the Bay of Plenty highways, he doesn’t know.
“What we don’t know yet, but will find out shortly is the status of existing projects in this area. SH2 obviously, the Tauranga Northern Link, the Katikati bypass.
“A lot of work has already gone into those projects in terms of planning and property purchase. So it would seem a bit silly to pull the pin on them,” says Stuart.
The timing does work for the regional council’s own Regional Land Transport Strategy which has been out for consultation.
“Now we know a little bit more so we will be able to modify that once we have hear submissions and when we deliberate,” says Stuart.
“At least the timing is good for that. We can adapt our Regional Land Transport Strategy to these new funding streams.”