NZ highway plan endorsed

Committee endorses new NZ regional transport plan including the Waikato Expressway

NZ highway plan endorsed
Waikato Expressway

The Waikato Expressway has the full backing of the Waikato Regional Council, while commuter rail has been virtually ruled out between Hamilton and Auckland.

The council’s transport committee chairman Hugh Vercoe says the new Regional Land Transport Plan, a long-term blueprint for meeting the region’s transport needs, was endorsed this week.

"Examples of other key priorities identified in the plan include a focus on roads and rail lines that connect us to our regional neighbours and contribute to improved freight efficiency," he says.

"There is also a focus on improving safety outcomes, such as reducing safety risk on key roads and advancing speed management."

Many new suburbs have emerged in the last decade that will need to be serviced and accessible by public transport.

"With a changing population profile in different parts of the region, we need to optimise public transport in and around Hamilton, and improve accessibility for people who are disadvantaged by limited physical access to essential services," Vercoe says.

Much thought has gone into the plan, including new housing developments and projected growth on the outskirts of Hamilton.

"I would like to thank local councils and agencies such as the NZ Transport Agency and the NZ Police for their collective effort," Vercoe says.

"Working together allows us to speak with one voice to central government when it comes to major transport priorities that will help improve quality of life for communities across our region."

Vercoe acknowledged the many public submissions supporting commuter rail between Hamilton or north Waikato and Auckland that had been received, but says this is not viable at this stage.

"The plan expresses support for the concept, but acknowledges it is currently not a feasible option," Vercoe says.

"However, the committee will continue to look for opportunities to pursue commuter rail further."

The plan has now been signed off by the multi-stakeholder Regional Transport Committee and will come into effect as soon as it is signed off by the Waikato Regional Council.

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