By Len Salt
Community connections continue to be the priority
It’s been nine months since Cyclone Gabrielle hit the Coromandel, which means there’s been nine months of hard recovery work - much of which has been on our local and Waka Kotahi State Highway roading network. Also, during this time, we’ve made sure that even our most isolated and vulnerable communities are re-connected and supported.
I will set out a few things we’ve delivered on so far regarding roading.
In my previous column, I talked about pushing hard for long-term investment (10-30 years) in our roading infrastructure. I have personally escorted several cabinet ministers on tours of the SH25 Coast Road, the Taparahi bridge site on SH25A and our Council’s Tapu-Coroglen Road (closed since February and due to open by Christmas, weather permitting). We’ve had the full support of Waka Kotahi and our regional committee partners from the other councils in the region on this.
Waka Kotahi has now completed an investment case for a substantial long-term programme of building State Highways and local roads back better. This includes more resilience in the network. The investment case will be considered by the Waka Kotahi Board at the end of this month and we’re confident that this funding will be secured as part of the $6 billion recovery commitment from the current government, although we don’t yet know the level of funding that might be applied to our District.
I’ve also received assurances from National’s Simeon Brown (Transport spokesperson) and MP for the Coromandel Scott Simpson that this recovery funding will be honoured if there is a change of government.
Alongside this, we’ve played a leading role in developing policy and priorities set by the Regional Land Transport Committee. This committee funds projects for long-term improvement of local roads and state highways. Along with Councillor John Morrissey, we’ve successfully informed the Government Policy Statement on Transport.
In the past nine months on roading there has also been:
Prioritisation of 28 sites for recovery/reinstatement road works with a view of completion in 2024
Successfully clearing all slips (where safe to do so) in a timely manner immediately following the storms.
The tender has closed on the proposed works to repair Tapu-Coroglen Road, with six firms bidding for the works. Tender reviews are now underway with the intention that repairs will start in the first week in October
First piles in the ground for new SH25A bridge
Repair work at several sites on State Highway 25 around the Coromandel
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has introduced temporary speed limit changes to sections of State Highway 25
We’ve stressed the critical nature of the effects of the weather on our district and the long-term effects on our economic and social well-being. This message has gone through all the way to the final Government Policy Statement, which has re-prioritised focus on resilience, safety, emissions reduction, and connectivity.
We’re moving the goal posts and shifting the focus onto long-term resilience in a way that will directly benefit our district in years to come – and that is something we’re also signalling in our upcoming Long Term Plan, which I’ll share more on in my future columns.
NOTE: Next week there is more from Mayor Len on Funding and Grants Social and Economic Resilience which could not be placed in his column this week.