The Waimea Rd lights that were recently installed using the region’s “R funding” or regional funding given to the council by the government. Photo: Sinead Ogilvie.

Road funding still unused

0
1158

Half of the city’s regional road fund is still up for grabs, with more than $10 million in the kitty waiting to be spent.

While the majority of Nelson’s R funding, or road funding, has been earmarked, half of the $22.9m it was allocated is up for review, meaning other projects not already being considered can still get a look in.

Nelson was allocated $22.9m in R funding by the government, from a funding pool made up of fuel excise duty and road user charges. Despite initially struggling to find projects to spend it on Nelson City Council has since tagged the majority of the money for spending on the Walk/Cycle/School package, major roading projects, road widening, footpath creation and a possible $5.7 million on Rocks Rd.

With money already spent on the Waimea Rd and Motueka St intersection, improvements to the Maitai Walkway and the Brook area and more work scheduled for the Ridgeway intersection, Works and Infrastructure committee chair and councillor Eric Davy says R funding is being put to good use but there is still a capacity to review it.

“We still have 50 percent of the R funding available to be reviewed and reconsidered. But we want to know if those projects are still the main priority for this council or can we look at something that is of higher benefit for the area?”

Eric says R funding is being used for projects that may not have been funded any other way and it’s been a bonus to have the ability to use the money for those. “But I’d like to put it out there and say here is an opportunity, I’m saying that fifty percent of the R funding can be reviewed and therefore, what does the community want to see us do with that money?  Does the community itself have any projects they would like to see developed that we can spend that money on?”

Among those projects up for review would be the millions of dollars earmarked for a cycleway and walkway on Rocks Rd, that will only get the go ahead if a feasibility report comes back positively says mayor Rachel Reese.

“There is quite a lot to work through in the feasibility study before we will know if a shared pathway can be delivered that meets the recreational needs and respects this important coastline. “Rocks Rd has important recreational and heritage values.  It is also an attractive route that has significant amenity value to tourists and residents.  Any update will need to improve the attractiveness of this city to sea link.

“What we do need to be realistic about is that a design solution, one that respects the values in this area, may cost considerably more than $5.7m.”

She says R funding could also be used for the Southern Arterial project if it met the funding criteria specified by NZTA and that she’d like to discuss reviewing the criteria later this year given population increases and continued pressure on Rocks Rd.

“However, other sources of central government funding should also be pursued. I believe we are short changed as a region. We receive no government funding for rail and no funding for public transport.”

The deadline to have R funding committed is 2018.