Funding confirmed for Whanganui River Road seal completion - 31/10/2012The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has today confirmed additional funding to complete the final section of sealing of the Whanganui River Road.
NZTA Regional Director Jenny Chetwynd says the NZTA has committed to ensuring the work can be completed, and has approved an increased investment of $1.855m to enable Wanganui and Ruapehu districts to finish this important regional project.
This additional funding brings the project investment to $10.829m, and will allow the remaining 11.7km of the 35km project to be completed
Ms Chetwynd says that the NZTA is conscious that costs of the project had increased significantly, and the decision to approve further funding came after careful consideration of whether the benefits the project provided also delivered good value for money. The NZTA will work closely with the councils’ project management teams to ensure the project is delivered within the agreed scope, budget and schedule .
“We recognise the importance of sealing the Whanganui River Road both to unlock tourism opportunities in this scenic area, while also improving safety. As part of our increased investment, we have also approved additional funding for safety barriers to make the road safer and more forgiving for the people who use it.”
The 11.7km section of unsealed road is from Ranana in the Wanganui District to 1km within the Ruapehu District boundary and the mayors of both districts have welcomed the funding announcement.
“Wanganui District Council, as the lead agency, has been working with NZTA over the last few years to ensure we can finish sealing the Whanganui River Road as planned,” Mayor Main said.
“I’m delighted with the announcement that NZTA has approved funding to complete the sealing, plus the additional $120,000 for safety barriers.
“This will have major benefits, not only for those who live and work in the valley but also for the large numbers of visitors who are attracted by the scenic vistas and natural environment of the river valley and surrounding Whanganui National Park. With the road now a popular section of both the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail and the Te Araroa Pathway, the Whanganui River Road is attracting even more attention both nationally and internationally. The flow-on effects of these visitors to both the Whanganui and Ruapehu districts provides significant income into our respective economies.
“The Whanganui River Valley is a highly productive land-based economy farmed primarily by successful Iwi incorporations; a safe and accessible road corridor is an essential ingredient to the growth of productivity into the future.
“I congratulate everyone who has been involved in ensuring we can complete this project, since it was endorsed by the Manawatu Wanganui Regional Land Transport committee as a priority project.”
Ruapehu Mayor and Regional Land Transport Committee member Sue Morris said that completing the seal extension is critical to being able to fully realise the economic benefits that underwrote the original financial analysis.
“Ruapehu is achieving its goal of being an all year, all season destination with summer visitors now exceeding our traditional winter visitor numbers.
“The sealing of the Whanganui River Road was always an important part of this strategy as it is an important regional scenic route for bringing visitors into Ruapehu especially the high value ‘free and independent travellers’,” she said.
Mayor Morris said that she commended the NZTA for making the funding available to complete the project.
“This is undoubtedly the correct decision and Ruapehu District Council reaffirms our commitment to funding our half of the additional construction costs required to complete the seal extension works.”
The sealing work will be finished by May 2014.