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Business cases needed for crucial roads funding

THE Regional Transport Committee has been told that strong business cases were needed for this region to get funding for crucial roading projects.

The committee received a draft national land transport programme for local roads.

Waipaoa Ward Councillor Graeme Thomson said most people would have noticed a marked increase in traffic movements over the past 10 to 15 years.

It would be worthwhile to collect data showing how spending over that time matched the increase and see graphs showing how this compared with other regions.

NZ Transport Agency regional relationships director Emma Speight said the critical step was to make sure there was a really good business case for funding, which was not on a per capita basis.

Meredith Akuhata-Brown said she had been frustrated that a business case for the Motu Bridge fell off the programme.

The Government spent $100,000 strengthening the bridge and was now building a new one for $6.5 million.

“We appreciate the bridge, of course, but when the gorge is shut it is not very helpful to have a bridge going to nowhere,” she said.

Unique challengesThe committee needed to be looking to other regions to see how well the mechanism the government was using treated this region, which had some unique challenges.

District council deputy chief executive David Wilson said they had a very good relationship with the agency when it came to preparing business cases.

Malcolm Maclean said after Cyclone Bola in 1988, the Labour government gave $35 million to be passed out.

“I wonder if we should ask Jacinda for $35 million to pay for harvesting the logs,” he said.

Murray Palmer said another line in the graph should be log volumes. He had worked on the Takapau road revetment, which was a very successful project. It remained intact through Bola and all the other storms until recently.

It might be indicative of what was happening now.

Was there a case for locals doing the strengthening work for the HPMV vehicles? Were they getting bang for their buck?

Mr Wilson said business cases were prepared on a case-by-case basis.

Was it for the benefit of one party or was there a good economic return? Business cases might sound like a buzzword but there needed to be a sound reason for any project.

“You will never hear me say we have too much money,” he said.

“We are strapped for cash. We need more money to keep up with economic growth.”

The council needed to have a business case to show why they wanted that amount of money for that particular project.

Meredith Akuhata Brown asked if the committee was getting a balance of what rail could mean for the programme. It was hard for people working in that space to know if they were being heard.

Mr Wilson said had a number of conversations with rail groups.

The issue for staff was moving forward with viable alternatives available now.

If rail were to come back, consideration would be given to it.