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Transport Minister Simon Bridges has announced an $18.5 million package of transport projects for the West Coast to help improve the region’s transport network.

The Government launched today the Tai Poutini West Coast Economic Development Action Plan.

“The West Coast’s distance from the main employment and business centres in the South Island and wider New Zealand means it is very dependent on safe and reliable transport links,” Mr Bridges says.

“The road network is particularly important for business connections and freight flows. That’s why we’re announcing a package of initiatives to improve safety and resilience of the region’s roads.

“An addition to the package is the replacement of one of the last single-lane bridges in the region - Ahaura Bridge on State Highway 7 between Greymouth and Springs Junction – with a new two lane bridge at a cost of up to $15 million.

“The last remaining single lane bridge on the route, Stony Creek Bridge, which is expected to cost $3.5 million will also be replaced, with a Detailed Business Case for the replacement getting underway in the next year.

“Good progress is being made on the new two-lane road bridge over the Taramakau River. Completion of this long-awaited bridge at the end of next year will significantly improve safety, travel times and the journey experience for everyone.

“It will provide an important connection for freight through to Canterbury and Otago, and separate road, rail and cycling/pedestrian traffic, making it safer for all travellers. These improved cycle links will help grow the tourism opportunities that are developing along the West Coast, such as the Wilderness Trail,” Mr Bridges says.

Construction of the two new bridges being built on SH7, between Greymouth and Reefton, will help strength the network and provide even better connections.

The Government has already committed to spending $3.5 million in the next years for more no-passing lines and keep-left arrows, improving signage and installing safety barriers along SH6 and SH73, as part of its programme to improve safety for visiting drivers.

“Our investment is focused on road resilience and safer visitor routes. The New Zealand Transport Agency will work with local authorities and the Regional Transport Committee to keep improving the West Coast network to support the region’s economic prosperity,” Mr Bridges says.

Background for editors

Regional economic development is a key part of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda. The West Coast was included in the Government’s Regional Growth Programme in November 2015. The programme aims to increase jobs, income and investment in regional New Zealand. More information can be found at http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/regions-cities/regional-growth-programme/west-coast

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