Nelson will lose a clear urban centre if the region’s roads aren’t sorted out says Nelson MP Nick Smith.
Speaking about the cycling and walkway options for Rocks Rd delivered to Nelson City Council, Nick says the council has been sending “mixed signals” to the government. He says the council needs to drop all plans for the waterfront until a southern arterial highway, through Victory, is built.
“What we’ve seen over the past decade, with the combination of difficult transport links and issues like parking, is that more and more of the retail spend is occurring in Richmond. We have a little bit of a parochial interest that we need to rise above, in that while that might suit Richmond, I don’t want to see Nelson develop long-term like Hastings and Napier, where you’ve lost a clear urban centre for the region.”
Nick says the three options for a walking cycleway presented to the Nelson City Council should be scrapped and the council should instead focus its energy on lobbying central government to reopen talks around building the long-talked-about southern arterial route. “The idea of converting Rocks Rd into a boulevard with a proper cycleway and walkway is hugely exciting and will transform Nelson’s iconic waterfront. However, this vision is only realistic from a financial, safety and design perspective if the existing State Highway is relocated to the southern link route,’’ he says.
But councillor Eric Davy, the chair of the works and infrastructure committee, ruled that out, recommending that two of the options go out for public consultation next month. “Rocks Rd will be the state highway for the foreseeable future and will always be a busy road as it connects communities; the Arterial Traffic Study confirmed this,” he says. “The council needs to consider how all modes can share the road. We think, along with the Transport Agency, that these concepts both work to address these issues. We look forward to hearing now from the community about which ideas they think work best to enhance and improve this important stretch of road.”
The options range in price from $9 million to $14 million, with the third option ruled out by the council as it had an estimated cost of between $33 and $47 million. “We’re interested in hearing from the community on the two options that we feel are the most realistic.”
Nick says the only “sensible way forward” is for Nelson to develop the boulevard vision for Rocks Rd, alongside the construction of a new state highway along the southern link route.