New funding gives green light for roading projects
Whanganui District Council can now move forward with a group of significant infrastructure projects after Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency approved all safety projects in the council’s roading programme for 2021-2024. The projects are part of a package of almost $10 million for the council’s low-cost, lowrisk safety programme announced as part of Waka Kotahi funding for the next three years. The council’s senior roading engineer, Brent Holmes, says Waka Kotahi’s acceptance of all council bids for safety improvements is great news for Whanganui. The projects approved for subsidised funding include the replacement of the Aramoho Rail Bridge pedestrian walkway clip-on, the Wakefield Street Bridge in Whanganui East and Erni’s Bridge at Kauarapaoa. “It’s fantastic that all our projects were accepted. They are not easy projects. For instance, Wakefield Street Bridge on No 3 Line crosses over an operational railway yard,” says Brent Holmes. The council has been seeking Waka Kotahi approval to replace the Wakefield Bridge since 2014, when improvements were identified. As part of public consultation during the council’s annual plan process, it was proposed the bridge could close to vehicle traffic. Nearby residents and bridge users opposed the idea and the bridge has remained open with weight and speed limits in place to extend its operating life. Mayor Hamish McDouall says the council’s infrastructure team had provided compelling business cases to Waka Kotahi for the funding and it was pleasing to see all projects accepted. “It has been a long journey to get funding for the Wakefield Street Bridge replacement. But we have been strategic about how we lobbied and got the reward for that. This will be a relief to many Whanganui East residents.” The replacement of Erni’s Bridge is scheduled for the next calendar year, while the Wakefield Street Bridge replacement and the Aramoho Rail Bridge clip-on are on the works programme for 2022/2023. Other funding has been earmarked for safety improvements around Gonville, Kaitoke, Aranui, Faith City, St Mary’s and St George’s schools and a footpath extension near Mosston School. Also successful was a council bid for six new shared pathways to be built over the next three years, at a total cost of $3.958 million. The shared pathways link across the city’s urban area, particularly in areas of high growth, and provide key links for recreation, school and commuter use. Brent Holmes says the pathways promote alternative safe transport options that also promote healthier lifestyles and are better for the environment. Reducing fossil fuel use ties in with the council’s Climate Change Strategy. One of the significant pathways to be built is the Whanganui River shared pathway from Gilberd St to North Mole — the final stage of the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail. The other pathways are: Somme Parade shared pathway — Dublin Street Bridge to Field St, Aramoho Springvale shared pathway — Fitzherbert Av to Heads Rd Mill Road shared pathway — Mosston Road to Manuka St Aramoho Rail Bridge shared pathway clip-on renewal — Anzac Parade to Somme Parade Tawhero shared pathway — London St to Brooking St. All projects are part of Waka Kotahi’s National Land Transport Programme 2021-2024. The council’s total package for maintenance, operations and renewals under this programme is $39.34 million over three years.