Transport Minister Simon Bridges today announced the selected option for the Mount Messenger Bypass in Taranaki following a decision by the NZ Transport Agency Board last Friday.
An eastern alignment has been selected, which will bypass the existing Mount Messenger and provide a more direct and efficient route. This alignment was known as Option C during public consultation.
“In 2016 the Government announced that funding would be available to accelerate this project as part of the Accelerated Regional Roading Programme,” Mr Bridges says.
“State Highway 3 is the key link between Taranaki and the Waikato. Improving the safety and reliability of this route is a real priority for the Government. The new route will contribute to the ongoing economic growth of Taranaki.
“After over a year of extensive assessment and consultation, it’s exciting to now be able to announce the selected option for the Mount Messenger bypass,” Mr Bridges says.
The eastern alignment option delivers safety, resilience and travel time benefits whilst avoiding geologically unstable areas. It is also the preferred option of both the road transport sector and the Department of Conservation.
“This project will provide a host of wider economic benefits, including additional local employment opportunities, the development of region’s tourism sector and a much-needed reliable freight and lifeline route connecting Taranaki and the Waikato,” Mr Bridges says.
“Taranaki has the highest Gross Domestic Product per capita in New Zealand. This new and improved route will help increase productivity in the region and provide a safer, more resilient connection to the Waikato.
“The new route will ensure Taranaki’s goods have greater and more reliable access to domestic and world markets as well as providing better access to tourist visiting the region,” Mr Bridges says.
The project is estimated to cost $200 million and will be funded through the Government’s Accelerated Regional Roading Programme and National Land Transport Fund.
The project is expected to be complete by 2021.
Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges has joined Taranaki councils and the business community to launch an economic development strategy for the region.
The Minister is in New Plymouth today to join the local community at the launch of Tapuae Roa - Make Way for Taranaki, which provides direction for the region’s economy.
“Taranaki’s economy is mostly based on the oil, gas, dairy, manufacturing and other sectors. This strategy will build on this through boosting skills and enterprise to grow Taranaki into a modern, high-value economy," Mr Bridges says.
“While the region has a noteworthy technology profile, the strategy also highlights the lifestyle and culture of the region. The region can be proud of its achievements with the award-winning Len Lye Centre, the coastal walkway, WOMAD and many others.”
The strategy was commissioned by Taranaki’s four councils and was developed by business and iwi leaders, the region’s councils and central government.
It identifies a number of action areas including boosting tourism and visitor services, growing the Maori economy and focusing on improving skills and innovation.
“The opportunities highlighted in the strategy will go a long way to Taranaki continuing its reign as the second best region in the world as voted by Lonely Planet, building on its visitor sector and taking the economy to the next level,” Mr Bridges says.
An action plan currently being developed will be released later this year and will identify priority actions to deliver the regional strategy.
Through the Regional Growth Programme, central government agencies will work in partnership with Taranaki stakeholders to develop and implement the Action Plan.
For more information on the strategy, go to www.makeway.co.nz.
The Government is investing $270 million to roll out Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) to 190 more small towns, and extend rural broadband to another 74,000 households and businesses, Communications Minister Simon Bridges says.
“We’re also bringing the completion of the UFB network forward by two years. By the end of 2022, our UFB programme will provide more than four million New Zealanders with access to world-class internet,” Mr Bridges says.
The investment is made up of:$130 million to extend UFB to another 60,000 households and businesses in 190 new towns and complete the network by 2022. $140 million to extend rural coverage of high speed broadband under the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) to another 74,000 rural households and businesses, and to deliver mobile coverage on 1000 kilometres of rural highways and more than 100 tourist areas through the Mobile Black Spot Fund (MBSF).
UFB uses fibre optic cables to deliver broadband to households and businesses. It is most suitable and cost effective in urban areas with higher dwelling and business densities.
“We started UFB in 2010 with the original goal of connecting 34 towns to world-class fibre-to-the-premises. Earlier this year we expanded it to 200 more towns and today’s announcement will bring us to 390,” Mr Bridges says.
Because UFB is not feasible for every rural community, the RBI provides faster internet to homes and businesses outside UFB areas through a combination of fixed lines upgrades and new fixed wireless coverage.
Over 300,000 rural homes and businesses already have access to improved broadband under the first phase of RBI which was completed in June 2016.
Today’s funding announcement is in addition to the $150 million the Government has already allocated for rural broadband and mobile coverage.
“We want to ensure that some of our biggest sectors that operate in rural New Zealand – such as agriculture and tourism – can benefit from the productivity improvements that better connectivity offers,” Mr Bridges says.
The Mobile Black Spot Fund will improve public safety and visitor experiences by providing greater mobile coverage on stretches of State Highway and in tourism locations where no coverage currently exists.
“We are providing coverage along remote parts of the State Highway network that until now had no coverage at all. For example, State Highway 6 on the West Coast and State Highway 1 in the Far North,” Mr Bridges says.
“Better connectivity in these remote areas will enhance visitor experiences at some of the countries tourist hotspots, such as Milford Sound, Cape Reinga and Bethells Beach.
Together, the Rural Broadband and Mobile Black Spot programmes will be delivered through the construction of more than 450 new towers, in addition to the 150 already built.
“Today’s announcement brings our total investment in rolling out world-leading communications infrastructure to more than $2 billion,” Mr Bridges says.
“Once complete, New Zealand will be in the top five countries in the OECD for access to high speed broadband. Considering that in 2011 we were placed 26th with very little connectivity that will be a fantastic achievement.
“By 2022, 87 per cent of New Zealanders will have access to UFB and 99 per cent will have access to high speed internet,” Mr Bridges says.
The $270 million programme announced today will be funded by $240 million of recycled capital from earlier stages of the UFB programme and $30 million from the Telecommunications Development Levy.
“This investment is a vital part of the Government’s plan to support regional growth and develop a productive and competitive economy,” Mr Bridges says.
Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have announced government funding of up to $800,000 for 3-D aerial mapping of Northland to provide the region with highly accurate geographical data to make better business decisions.
LiDAR is a remote sensing tool which uses laser pulses to generate large amounts of highly accurate geographical terrain data.
“This will be the most comprehensive LIDAR exercise ever undertaken in New Zealand and the high quality mapping data produced will provide a blueprint of the whole region,” says Mr Bridges.
“It will produce data that is ten times more accurate than what is currently used, and can have a wide range of uses from forest inventory, floodplain mapping, urban planning and coastal engineering to its use for the design of powerlines, roads, railways, mines, farms and land developments.
“This is part of Northland’s joint Economic Action Plan with Government and the region which contains projects identified as being key to supporting economic growth,” Mr Bridges says.
Mr Guy said the data will provide authorities with more confidence to progress infrastructure projects and deliver better, more cost-effective planning and a better understanding and ability to plan for sustainable land management.
“The data can be used by forestry companies to help plan their logging operations, horticulture companies for sustainable land management and by public and private operators to plan pest control.
“On the farm it can be used for creating topographic maps of fields and for crop mapping in vineyards and orchards. It will be a valuable tool for decision-makers to use in working out how to get the best use of their land.
“LiDAR also helps with detailed hazard planning and preparation by identifying any changes to land formations, water courses and physical structures after a natural event. After the Kaikoura earthquake it was used to show how far the impact extended out to sea.”
Funding for the Northland LiDAR project comes from the government’s Regional Growth Programme, co-led by the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment. Land Information New Zealand has also contributed funds.
The government’s funding has been collectively matched by the four Northland councils.
LiDAR surveying is expected to start within the coming months and be completed in 2018. A Cessna twin engine aeroplane, modified for LiDAR surveying, will be used. The plane can be flown safely at low altitudes over urban areas.
National will start construction on the Nelson Southern Link in the next term of government.
“National is committed to delivering the infrastructure our regions need to support the growing economy. That’s why we are accelerating the delivery of this critical transport project for Nelson,” National Party Transport Spokesperson Simon Bridges says.
“Our Accelerated Regional Roading Programme has enabled the construction, investigation and delivery of 16 regionally significant projects right across New Zealand.
“The investigation and design of the Nelson Southern Link was part of the Programme in 2014 and today we are announcing we will get on and build it.
“Nelson is one of the country’s fastest growing areas with 4.4 per cent growth in 2016 and that strong growth is set to continue, providing more jobs and raising incomes.
“Efficient and reliable transport networks are vital to sustaining Nelson’s export-led economy and we need to act now to ensure growing congestion does not become a handbrake. That’s why we are accelerating the construction of the Nelson Southern Link.
“The Nelson Southern Link will reduce congestion and improve travel times for people and freight moving around Nelson, support economic growth and boost the region’s productivity.
“It will also ensure exporters in the region can get their goods to domestic and international markets faster and more reliably,” Mr Bridges says.
The new road is expected to cost up to $135 million and will include city connections, cycle and walking facilities, improved intersections – including some that are grade separated.
Cycling in Nelson is a popular option for getting around Nelson. The iconic Rock’s Road has seen strong growth in the number of cyclists and pedestrians using it.
“Once the alignment for the Nelson Southern Link has been finalised a re-elected National-led Government will also work with the City Council to upgrade the walking and cycling facilities along Rocks Road.
“Rocks Road is an important link in Nelson’s wider cycleway network. The new cycleway will provide for a safer, and more enjoyable experience for all users and complement the new walking and cycling facilities that will be built as part of the Nelson Southern Link,” Mr Bridges says.
Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Sport and Recreation Minister Jonathan Coleman welcome the fifth Audi quattro Winter Games New Zealand, which officially opens tonight at Coronet Peak.
“Hosting the Winter Games in New Zealand is a great opportunity to showcase our country in terms of both winter tourism and international snow sports competitions,” says Mr Bridges.
“The last Winter Games in New Zealand in 2015 attracted around 2,000 international visitors including athletes, coaches, media and spectators.
“The Games include international competition in alpine skiing, freeskiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, freeride, curling, and ice hockey.
“This year’s Games runs from today to the 10th of September at locations in and around Queenstown, Wanaka and Naseby. They have gone from strength to strength since their inception in 2009, and there are now plans to make them an annual event.
“The Government has contributed $1.25 million towards the hosting of this year’s games through the Major Events Development Fund.”
“The Games are one of the world’s top five winter sports competitions and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere,” says Dr Coleman.
“This year’s Winter Games are a critical event for Kiwi athletes hoping to qualify for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“On top of the major events funding, the Government has also provided funding of $20,000 to Snow Sports NZ through Sport NZ to help deliver a Continental Cup event in the lead up to the Winter Games.
“The Continental Cup is a great opportunity for our winter athletes who are just shy of qualifying for the Winter Games to get across the line, while also taking advantage of the infrastructure put in place for the games.
“It’s also great for our Olympic hopefuls to include a home event of this stature in their preparation for PyeongChang, and for local fans have the opportunity to enjoy the sport.”
For further information on the Winter Games visit www.wintergamesnz.kiwi/
The first free and open Mobility as a Service (MaaS) Marketplace app, Choice, has been launched in Queenstown today, Transport Minister Simon Bridges says.
“Mobility as a Service is a new approach to transport that combines journey options from all transport providers into a single mobile service,” Mr Bridges says.
“The Choice app connects users with services through an online marketplace, so they can pick what they want to do, use the live transport information to help get them there, and easily book their journey – all from one application.
“This new service will improve transport options for residents and tourists, enabling new mobility options and providing a better travel experience
“Choice is available in three languages and will be a boost for the tourism industry, reducing the language barriers for tourists using the local transport system.
“With nearly 2 million tourists visiting Queenstown annually, the Choice app will provide visitors with all the information they need to know about exploring, relaxing and enjoying Queenstown and the surrounding area,” Mr Bridges says.
New Zealand’s small size and Queenstown’s popularity over the snow season have been the drivers for the first MaaS Marketplace pilot in New Zealand. The pilot will contribute to the testing of digital solutions to help solve congestion and road safety issues.
Mr Bridges says the Queenstown pilot is a new approach to transport to improve the timeliness and accessibility of New Zealand’s transport information, with a focus on improving the experience of anyone who chooses to move around the region.
“Enabling the utilisation of improved transport information alongside technology like the MaaS Marketplace is a real game changer,” Mr Bridges says.
“With this approach New Zealand’s current transport infrastructure will change to a future transport system of effective journey planning, live information and greater choices for individuals and communities giving them back time to do what’s important.”
The pilot has been a collaboration between the NZTA, Otago Regional Council, Queenstown Lakes District Council and Auckland Transport, supported by Destination Queenstown and Queenstown’s local transport providers. The next phase of the pilot will be bringing the marketplace concept to Auckland.
The initial version of the MaaS Marketplace will target the winter Queenstown experience; with later versions focusing on exploring the region during the summer months. The Queenstown pilot will also inform a second stage in Auckland later in the year.
Notes for editors
The pilot will test the viability to scale the real-time open mobility marketplace across New Zealand.
The Choice app beta will be available for download from the Google Play store from 24 August 2017 and from the Apple iOS store the following week.
Choice has a second release planned for early December with future releases planned for the Queenstown summer.
The pilot includes: Ritchies (public transport), Queenstown Taxis (Blue Bubble), Green Cabs, Corporate Cabs, Chariot (ride-share), NZ Ski, Heliworks, Go Orange, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Cardrona, Treble Cone, Destination Queenstown
The marketplace’s platform is powered by Satori. Satori pulls all the openly available data feeds for transport providers (such as route plans, GPS locations, timetables and fleet numbers) into one place.
Satori is a live, cloud based, live data platform that allows you to connect, process and react to streaming live data.
For a full press kit on Mobility as a Service visit www.nzta.govt.nz/choice
For more on Satori visit www.satori.com
A new regime that makes it quicker and easier for people living down shared driveways or in apartment complexes to connect to Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) has begun, Communications Minister Simon Bridges says.
The Telecommunications (Property Access and Other Matters) Amendment Act, which passed into law in April, introduced a new, simplified consenting process that telecommunications companies must follow when installing modern networks like UFB, in instances where there are multiple interests in a property.
“These changes are critical for helping us speed up and streamline the rollout of faster broadband to New Zealanders, allowing people who may not otherwise be able to connect to UFB to do so,” Mr Bridges says.
“Better connectivity connects our families, communities and businesses to each other and to the rest of the world, opening up social and economic opportunities. This new regime will enable more New Zealanders to realise these benefits.
“The changes support the Government’s ambitious UFB programme, helping us achieve our target of providing up to 85 per cent of New Zealanders with access to fibre by the end of 2024,” Mr Bridges says.
The Act also created a new disputes resolution scheme to protect property owners, while ensuring that any disputes that arise as a result of the new consenting regime are dealt with fairly and efficiently.
Utilities Disputes Limited was recently appointed as the approved provider of the scheme. Network operators must be members of the scheme in order to make use of the new regime. Chorus became the first member this week.
The Act also incentivises telecommunications companies to use lower impact methods of installation to avoid property disruption, and enables the use of existing infrastructure such as electricity lines for deploying fibre in rural areas.
“People living on shared property who might previously have had problems connecting to UFB due to consent issues are encouraged to contact their retail service provider to enquire about whether fibre can be installed at their property under the new regime,” Mr Bridges says.
Further information about the property access regime and the dispute resolution scheme is available here.
The Government will invest $150,000 in stimulating demand for geothermal heat resources in the Bay of Plenty region, Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins announced today.
“Geothermal energy is a global industry estimated to be worth $62.8 billion by 2020,” Mr Bridges says.
“Currently only 5 per cent of geothermal energy is being used in New Zealand. There is significant potential for greater use both across the Bay of Plenty and other regions in New Zealand.”
The investment will be used for a Geothermal Business Development Lead to support work in stimulating demand for geothermal heat resources, including attracting investment from industry and promoting the value proposition and commercial opportunities.
“The costs of renewable geothermal energy are often comparatively cheaper than gas and coal. New Zealand could be at the forefront of this as we have a secure and renewable energy source at our fingertips,” Ms Collins says.
“If used for high value products, geothermal heat could add millions to the local and national economy, growing industries in timber drying, aquaculture/tourism, horticulture and milk drying.”
This work is a significant action from the Start 2 Steam Workshop held in Rotorua in May and also forms part of the Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Action Plan.
The project will be led by the region with central government support from the Regional Growth Programme.
The Labour Party’s adoption of the passenger rail ideas for Waikato and the Bay of Plenty of the Auckland public transport lobby is unrealistic and would be a waste of public money, National Party Transport spokesperson Simon Bridges says.
“The Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga rail line is our busiest freight route and simply doesn’t have the capacity to also be a commuter rail line,” Mr Bridges says.
"The only way you could use it for both would be to double track large sections of the line, and Labour doesn’t have any plan to invest for that.
“Labour would kick economy-fuelling freight off this important line and replace it with empty commuter carriages.
“The other and possibly bigger problem is that the journey by train between Auckland and Tauranga takes more than four and a half hours by rail where a car or a bus takes around 2.5 hours and a plane takes around 40 minutes.
“If they are saying that they want to do rapid rail, then that is more for places with the population density of England than here in New Zealand. The population of the Midlands for example is over 10 million people as against the 730,000 in Waikato/Bay of Plenty and the cost of rapid rail there is in the billions of pounds.
“Labour should really do their homework before coming out with ideas cooked up by public transport lobby groups.”