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$1.1 billion forecast total investment

In September 2021 a record $24.3 billion investment in Aotearoa’s land transport system was announced as part of Ngā Kaupapa Huarahi o Aotearoa | 2021–24 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP).

Activities funded through the NLTP aim to make New Zealand’s roads safer and more resilient, provide you with healthier, more environmentally friendly ways to move to the places that matter to you and keep freight flowing.

A safe, well-connected and resilient land transport system that gets goods to market and supports the economic recovery and growth of Ōtākou/Murihiku | Otago/Southland post COVID-19 is the main focus of investment in the 2021–24 NLTP.

Achieving greater value for money will be the priority in the two regions, along with creating a safe system that reduces harm to both people and the environment.

In Otago, this NLTP we’ll be focusing our investment on a safer and more resilient land transport system that supports regional growth and provides appropriate levels of service, as well as prioritised investments in Dunedin and Queenstown to improve access to public transport, walking and cycling and take better account of place and movement functions of city streets.

In Southland, the emphasis will be on improving both the safety and resilience of our network to help foster economic growth, maintain key road connections and ensure the right levels of service for everyone who uses our transport system.

We’ll work with our partners to ensure the regions’ roads are safer, more resilient and well maintained to provide the access that communities rely on, and which are critical to the farming, forestry and tourism industries of both the Otago and Southland economies. During the 2021–24 NLTP period $636 million will be invested in road maintenance and renewals in Otago and Southland.

COVID-19

Transport needs to play its part to support the post COVID-19 recovery of the tourism sector in both Otago and Southland.

Pre-COVID growth pressures in Queenstown still need addressing. The current situation provides an opportunity to re-evaluate what is needed, where, and the scale and sequencing of growth and investment to achieve the Queenstown’s spatial plan outcomes.

Maintaining safe and reliable road and rail freight connections is essential to support the COVID-19 recovery, along with improving access to employment, education and training opportunities and essential services for isolated communities.

Dunedin

Connecting Dunedin, a transport partnership between the Dunedin City Council (DCC), Otago Regional Council (ORC) and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, is helping to ensure Dunedin is well placed to respond to the city’s future transport needs. This partnership ensures close co-ordination of key transport projects and programmes, future land use and transport development for the central city, where the new Dunedin hospital is being built.

The work programme is focused on a range of cycling and pedestrian improvements, safety, public transport initiatives and encouraging more traffic on to roads which prioritise vehicle movement while increasing the safety, access and amenity of others. This programme includes travel demand management projects, with $15 million for safety and accessible upgrades in the central city and $19 million to accelerate the development of the city’s cycle network.

Investment will also be made in Dunedin this NLTP period to improve the frequency and reliability of public transport services.

Construction is underway on the $32 million SH88 Dunedin to Port Chalmers improvements project that includes building the final 5km section of the SH88 shared cycling/walking path between St Leonards and Port Chalmers. When this path opens towards the end of 2022 it will provide a safer alternative route for cyclists to using SH88, a busy main road freight link between Dunedin and Port Chalmers. The path is expected to increase the uptake of walking and cycling as a viable commuting option between Port Chalmers and Dunedin.

Work will be completed on the $22 million Company Bay to Broad Bay section of the Otago Peninsula Connection road safety improvements and shared walking and cycling project from Dunedin to the Otago Harbour entrance. Several seawalls built as part of this project will protect the main road between Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula from climate change related sea level rises. The last sections of this project will be delivered in 2021/22 (part of Broad Bay and Portobello).

A $15 million project to replace Dunedin’s street lighting with LEDs will be completed during the first year of the 2021–24 NLTP. LED lighting increases safety and significantly reduces energy use and on-going maintenance costs.

In this NLTP, further investment is planned to build on public transport patronage growth in Dunedin. Likely initiatives include more bus services from the south of the city, including from Mosgiel, and real-time tracking of buses showing their locations and expected arrival times.

Early in this NLTP period, work is expected to start on the new $28 million two-lane Beaumont Bridge on SH8 over the Clutha River. This replaces a 140-year-old single-lane wrought iron truss bridge and creates a more resilient highway link over the Clutha River on one of the main road freight routes between Dunedin and Central Otago. It will ensure rural goods are moved more reliably to production centres and markets which is important for Otago’s economic growth. Businesses and communities, as a result will have better and safer access to economic and social opportunities.

The new $3.4 million single lane Hinahina Bridge over the Catlins River, near Owaka, has been completed, improving safety and resilience on an important road connecting local communities to social, educational and business opportunities. Designed to accommodate large logging trucks, the bridge will contribute to economic growth locally as well as through the wider Otago region. Sixty percent of this project is funded from the NLTP, with the Clutha District Council meeting the balance of the cost.

Queenstown

There is a multi-agency approach to managing transport opportunities and post COVID-19 growth in Queenstown, reflecting the town’s popularity as both a place to live and a holiday destination. Kā Huanui a Tāhuna, is the name gifted to the recently established Queenstown Transport Alliance and will be crucial in delivering multiple programmes across the district, as well as other Crown-funded projects.

Several improvements to the SH6/SH6A highway corridor are being considered as part of the NZ Upgrade Programme to ensure better connections to other parts of the network and improve walking, cycling and public transport links. A total of $115 million has been earmarked to build bus lanes on SH6 and bus priority measures on SH6A, supported by an improved bus hub on SH6. This investment also includes a new roundabout at Howards Drive (Lake Hayes Estate access) and an upgrade to the SH6/SH6A intersection.

The programme also includes the delivery of a range of public transport and walking and cycling improvements between Ladies Mile, Kawarau Falls Bridge and the Queenstown centre.

Public transport will continue to be coordinated between Waka Kotahi, Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Otago Regional Council, to address changing demands on the network, including significantly less tourist traffic because of COVID-19 border closures. This NLTP period there will be investment in the planning and implementing new public transport infrastructure for the town.

Building on the success of the Orbus public transport services, which started operating in the resort in 2017, consideration will be given to supporting a more pedestrian-friendly town centre and other activities. These include improved parking management, new on-road/off-road shared walking/cycling opportunities, and a range of public transport service improvements.

Wakatipu Active Travel is another collaboration between Waka Kotahi, Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Otago Regional Council. This partnership will design a network of over 80kms of shared pathways across the Wakatipu Basin to encourage people to make walking and cycling their preferred travel choice. During this three-year period, $13 million will be invested in the first stage of the Wakatipu Walking/Cycling Network.

Southland

Work started this year on some elements of a Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) funded $25 million upgrade to the 1.2km Homer Tunnel. This involves a $3 million investment in tunnel safety including improvements for monitoring tunnel incidents and better management of traffic on the eastern side of the tunnel. Road User safety will see $22 million invested at the Homer Tunnel involving protection work targeting tunnel specific risks. The tunnel is also the subject of a business case that will start in this NLTP to confirm the long-term strategy for Homer Tunnel.

In south Invercargill, construction is underway on a new roundabout to improve safety and reduce the severity of crashes at the busy SH1/Elles Road intersection. This project includes a new level crossing and access road into an industrial estate and is scheduled for completion in the first half of 2022.

Invercargill City Council, Gore District Council and the Southland District Council are also replacing their streetlights with more energy efficient LED lights. This $5 million programme will be completed at the end of 2021.

A 16km, off-highway shared walking and cycling path from Bluff to Awarua, connecting with a shared path to Invercargill, should be completed by the end of 2021. We’re co-funding the $1 million project with the Invercargill City Council and Environment Southland. The path will provide a safe alternative to SH1 for cyclists between Invercargill and South Port in Bluff and help to make cycling an attractive commuting option between Bluff and Invercargill. This path is also the final section of the 3,000km Te Araroa trail, a continuous walking trail from Cape Reinga in the north of New Zealand to Bluff in the south.

A new walking and cycling bridge across the Mataura River in Gore is to be built to complete the Gore District Council’s cycle network. Work on this bridge is planned to start early in this NLTP period, with this new facility helping encourage more people to walk and cycle in Gore.

Invercargill City Council has started implementing a new public transport pulse timetable similar to those being successfully used in several small North American cities. Pulse timetables reduce bus wait times for people and improve the frequency of services and connections to other services.

This timetable builds on other initiatives to grow public transport use in Invercargill including the recent introduction of a new Bee Card. This makes it easier for people to use public transport with the added convenience of being able to top the card up online.

Safety

Throughout Otago/Southland during the next three years, we’ll be spending $61 million on improving safety across five corridors to reduce annual deaths and serious injuries in the region.

Safety improvements will start in the first year of this NLTP along 37kms of SH1, between Palmerston and Herbert, in east Otago. Between 2010 and 2019 there were 190 crashes with 13 fatalities and 24 people seriously injured along this section of highway. Measures to reduce fatal and serious injuries include wider centre lines, road widening, improved signage and roadside barriers fitted at high-risk areas along the route to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes.

A new $5 million single-lane roundabout will be built at the SH6-SH8B intersection near Cromwell, to replace the current T-intersection. When completed in the second half of 2022, this project will help reduce the rising number of serious injury crashes at this busy intersection. The project is funded through the government’s $6.8 billion NZ Upgrade Programme.

More than $4 million will be invested improving safety at the intersection of SH6 and SH84 and a further $8.8 million along 3.4kms of SH6 from Hardware Lane to McDowell Drive.

Work is also underway on a $7 million Queenstown Lakes District Council project to improve Ballantyne Road, a busy local road near Wanaka. Improvements include sealing 4kms of the road and creating one-metre-wide sealed road shoulders to make walking and cycling safer. Forty power poles will also be relocated to create a safer roadside.

Safety improvements on the rural sections of SH88, between Dunedin and Port Chalmers this NLTP period will include the installation of safety barriers, high-performance road marking and improved road signage. All these measures are designed to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes on this busy and narrow freight corridor.

A start is also anticipated on work to improve safety at the SH93/SH1 intersection in Mataura. Traffic queues at the rail crossing during peak travel times affect through traffic on SH1.

Resilience

Further rock barrier work is underway to safeguard SH1, between Palmerston and Ōamaru, from coastal erosion at seven sites at Katiki Beach. This $3 million project will protect critical sections of a national strategic highway between Christchurch and Dunedin. It builds on similar coastal erosion protection work undertaken in 2017 at three sites further along the beach.

A start is expected to be made late 2021 to reduce the frequency of flood related closures on a low-lying section of SH1, near the Kakanui River south of Ōamaru. With marked changes in weather patterns and more regular rainstorms, the likelihood of floods closing this section of highway are increasing. To lower the risk, we will raise a vulnerable 200-metre section of SH1 through the Kakanui River flood plain by one metre. This $2 million project is funded as part of the NZ Upgrade Programme.

The 2021–24 Rail Network Investment Programme will focus on improving the resilience of the Main South Line. Bridge 194 south of Palmerston will be replaced, 28kms of track will be re-sleepered and 11km of track re-railed. The Ōamaru rail yard sea wall will be rebuilt, and other track and infrastructure works undertaken to reduce derailment risks, improve drainage, stabilise slopes and enhance coastal protection. Improvements will be made to the signalling system between Lyttelton and Dunedin to improve the efficiency and safety of this critical freight link.

In addition, renewals to the track and structures will be carried out across the Ohai Line, (running from Invercargill to Ohai)

Queenstown’s economy will continue to be supported by the on-going funding of a rock fall protection management programme at Nevis Bluff on SH6 between Queenstown and Cromwell. This will help minimise major rockfall closures on this critical highway corridor.

Work will be completed early in this NLTP installing a much larger culvert at Pumphouse Creek, on SH8 through Roxburgh. This will provide greater protection on a flood-prone section of highway and safeguard a nearby water treatment pumphouse, a critical piece of infrastructure for the town.

Investment highlights for 2021–24

  • A start on delivering the $90m NZ Upgrade Programme of transport improvements in Queenstown, and Stage 1 of the new arterial road in Queenstown Town Centre as well as streetscape improvements already underway (funded through Crown Infrastructure Partners and Queenstown Lakes District Council)
  • Completion of the SH88 shared path between St Leonards and Port Chalmers
  • Construction of a new two-lane Beaumont Bridge on SH8 over the Clutha River
  • Safety improvements along 37kms of SH1 between Palmerston and Herbert
  • Work to ensure coordinated planning and delivery of Dunedin’s key transport projects and planning for the new Dunedin hospital
  • A $25m safety upgrade of the SH94 Homer Tunnel.

Summary of achievements from 2018–21

  • Work commenced on the $31 million final 5km section of shared path, that will create a safe uninterrupted walking and cycling off-highway link between Port Chalmers and Dunedin
  • Formed an Alliance to deliver the $175 million Queenstown package of the NZ Upgrade Programme and Crown Infrastructure Partners funding to ensure better transport options in Queenstown and to help with Queenstown’s economic recovery from COVID-19
  • Opened a new Alpine Operations Centre to house tunnel operations staff, the Milford Road avalanche and rockfall protection programmes team
  • Began building a new roundabout to improve safety and reduce the severity of crashes at the busy SH1/Elles Road intersection in south Invercargill.
  • Increased safety with a $14 million programme that added barriers and improved signage on 935kms of high-risk rural highway in Southland and Otago.

Read about a few of the ways that previous investment has delivered for Ōtākou/Murihiku | Otago/Southland communities and New Zealand.