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Second bridge remains in Govt plans

Second bridge remains in Govt plans

Ashburton’s second urban bridge was missing in the Government’s latest announcement on Roads of Regional Significance - but only because it is already one.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown released the list of roads of regional significance on Monday.

These roads sit alongside the roads of national significance as part of the Government's plan to deliver priority transport projects across the country.

The roads of regional significance “single out essential routes that require prioritisation” and it replaces the NZ Upgrade Programme (NZUP).

The announcement was a shuffling of projects from the previous government’s NZUP to the new roads of regional significance.

Ashburton’s second bridge was already flagged as one in the Government’s draft Government Policy Statement on Land Transport.

The announcement caused a stir in Mid Canterbury that the bridge had been left off the list, leaving Rangitata MP James Meager to reassure the public that was not the case.

“It doesn’t affect the second Ashburton bridge, which is still a road of regional significance under the draft GPS.

“The announcement is just the ones being shifted from NZUP into RoRS alongside Ashburton Bridge and further confirms our Government’s commitment to regional roading resiliency.

“We remain committed to starting construction on the second Ashburton Bridge in our first term and continue to work with council and NZTA to ensure this is delivered as soon as possible."

The second bridge was listed as the top priority project in the Regional Land Transport Plan that has been submitted to NZTA to be included in the National Land Transport Plan process.

Minister Brown has previously stated that the process will identify when and how the second bridge will be delivered.

Brown and Finance Minister Nicola Willis have agreed to delegate all decision-making responsibilities around project scope and delivery to the NZTA.

“In order to continue to deliver these projects, difficult decisions were made to keep costs within the existing $6.54 billion funding.

“We have made clear to NZTA that it must deliver these projects within the existing funding envelope, as there will be no additional Crown funding.”

By Jonathan Leask