Transport Minister Simon Bridges today opened a new section of State Highway 3 north of Normanby that will improve both capacity and safety on a critically important route for the Taranaki region.
The $17.6 million project was identified as a priority in the 2012-2015 Regional Land Transport Programme for Taranaki.
It was also included in the Government’s Accelerated Regional Roading Package which makes significant funding available to a number of regionally important State Highway projects.
“The local community has campaigned passionately for much-needed safety upgrades to this section of road which has a long history of serious accidents. I’m very pleased that the Government has been able to deliver these improvements, reducing the risk of crashes and making the route safer, more resilient, and more efficient for all road users,’ says Mr Bridges.
“State Highway 3 is a busy commuter and freight route, but the previous alignment included some sharp curves and an old overbridge that increased the risk for motorists travelling through the area. By removing the bridge and curves and widening the shoulders of the road we’ve made it a shorter, safer route.
“This project, alongside the $135 million being invested in the Mt Messenger and Awakino Tunnel bypass projects, also being delivered under the Accelerated Regional Roading Package, demonstrates the Government’s ongoing commitment to investing in Taranaki’s transport development and economic growth.
“I would also like to acknowledge the local MPs, Hon Chester Borrows and Jonathan Young, who have advocated strongly on behalf of the community for these important projects,” says Mr Bridges.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges turned the first sod for the $1.98 million Te Tuaiwi cycleway at Whanganui Intermediate School today.
“Te Tuaiwi will connect existing cycleways to provide safer access to the centre of the city and allow the 3,500 students living within 500m of the route to cycle to school in the morning,” Mr Bridges.
The Minister also opened a section of the City to North Mole cycleway, a part of the scenic Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail, will provide a riverside link to the city centre for the 11,000 residents of Gonville, Tawhero and Castlecliff.
“The City to North Mole path will offer an attractive commuting option that will revitalise and improve the liveability of the central city, while providing greater access to areas like Bedford Avenue,” says Mr Bridges.
The first section of the $1.29 million City to North Mole Shared Path leads from the City Bridge to Bedford Avenue, well known as an artistic hub for the city.
“When completed, these two paths will contribute to a safer, more connected cycle network for Whanganui, giving people greater access to their homes, schools, and workplaces,” says Mr Bridges.
Both projects were jointly funded by the Whanganui District Council and the Government through the Urban Cycleways Programme.
Through this programme, central and local government are working together to deliver $333 million of new cycleway projects nationwide by June 2018, the single biggest investment in cycling in New Zealand’s history.
New Zealand will join Australia in a world-leading satellite technology test-bed, Transport Minister Simon Bridges announced in Queenstown today.
The New Zealand and Australian Governments will be partners in a two-year trial of Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS), and an associated programme of trials.
SBAS is expected to improve air navigation, smartphone-based services, asset management and precision agriculture, and is expected to be needed for the deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles.
“This is a world-leading trial that will allow us to investigate how New Zealand might benefit from the added precision SBAS adds to current and future global navigation satellite systems such as the widely used Global Positioning System (GPS),” Mr Bridges says.
“Essentially, SBAS is expected to help ready us for technologies that need more precise and reliable positioning data.
“While current GPS locations are accurate to within 5 to 10 metres, the SBAS test-bed could improve positioning to within as little as 10 centimetres. This means that a vehicle will recognise the road it is travelling on, but also which lane it is in, and its distance from surrounding objects.
“The test-bed and trials will be the first in the world to utilise next-generation SBAS technology, putting Australasia ahead of other parts of the world, and showing again why New Zealand is an ideal place to test new technologies.”
The New Zealand Government will contribute A$2 million towards the test-bed and trial programme.
The SBAS test-bed will contribute to the initial work programme of the Australia – New Zealand Science, Research and Innovation Cooperation Agreement signed in Queenstown today.
Minister for Economic Development Simon Bridges has welcomed the announcement today of the first confirmed bookings for the New Zealand International Convention Centre (NZICC).
“This will be a fantastic new facility for New Zealand, and it’s great to see it’s already attracting international conferences,” says Mr Bridges.
“When completed the NZICC is projected to inject $90 million dollars into Auckland’s economy annually and the city is already benefiting. To date over 1280 people have worked on the project.
“Today’s announcement is confirmation that New Zealand’s proven track record of hosting high quality international events makes us an attractive place for significant international conferences. Up until now our capacity to do so has been limited by the size of our facilities, with NZICC that’s changing.”
Two ophthalmology conferences held by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists, in conjunction with the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness will see thousands of eye care professionals and researchers from around the world come to Auckland.
“Initial estimates from Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development indicate the conferences will provide 15,000 room nights and some $11 million in economic benefit to the city,” says Mr Bridges.
“This doesn’t include any gains from conference attendees who decide to stay on and explore other parts of New Zealand.”
Mr Bridges says Tourism New Zealand, the Auckland Convention Bureau and the New Zealand International Convention Centre put together impressive bids, competing against other countries to bring the conferences to Auckland.
“All in all, these first bookings are great news for the Auckland and New Zealand economies and shows the promise of NZICC for the future.”
Transport Minister Simon Bridges today opened the $630 million Mackays to Peka Peka Expressway, delivering a long awaited road to the Wellington region.
The Expressway is part of the Wellington Northern Corridor, one of the Government’s Roads of National Significance, identified as key to economic growth.
The 18km four-lane expressway stretches along the Kāpiti Coast, and includes 18 bridges and 16km of walking and cycle ways.
“This impressive piece of infrastructure has been a long time coming and after three years of construction, it’s fantastic to be delivering it four months ahead of the original scheduled completion date,” Mr Bridges says.
“It has been an important project for the Kapiti and wider Wellington region, with more than $200 million contributed to the local economy through employment of local businesses and more than 5000 people having worked on the project.”
Mr Bridges says the project will deliver a range of benefits including shorter and more reliable travel times and significant safety improvements.
“Improved journey times to Wellington's port, CBD, interisland ferry terminals, airport and hospital will benefit the wider region.
“We know that transport is an enabler of economic activity so we need to continue unlocking key congestion points to get people and freight moving swiftly around the country.
“The Expressway also delivers a second, more resilient road network north of Wellington, an important feature in the wake of recent geological events.
“I’d like to acknowledge everyone who has been involved in the build including the Transport Agency, the contractors, local MP Nathan Guy, who has advocated for this road strenuously over time, as well as former Transport Ministers Gerry Brownlee and Steven Joyce who have been integral to its progression.”
The official opening will be followed by the Kāpiti Coast ExpressDay, a community event this Saturday to give the community a chance to experience the Expressway before it opens to traffic in the next two weeks.
Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges today welcomed the arrival of Rocket Lab’s launch vehicle to its complex on the Mahia Peninsula.
“This is an important milestone for Rocket Lab and a significant step in the development of a New Zealand space industry,” Mr Bridges says.
“We are taking a keen interest in the planned test and commercial launches, and a range of government agencies, led by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), are ensuring launch activities are safe and secure.
“We have the opportunity to leverage off the existence of Rocket Lab to build New Zealand’s capacity and expertise in a range of space-related activities and to support the strategic opportunities that are likely to flow.”
Development of a NZ-based space industry is aligned to the Government’s Business Growth Agenda which includes actions to develop New Zealand as a hub for high-value, knowledge-intensive businesses that create value through innovation and Research and Development.
“As Rocket Lab has demonstrated, New Zealand has advantages that make it an attractive location for space launches - clear seas and skies, access to valuable launch angles for rocket launchers, a skilled workforce, and an innovation friendly business environment.
“There are economic opportunities in the use of space as a whole, not just in a launch industry – space research, materials development and testing, space tourism, weather and atmospheric research.”
The Government is now developing a regulatory framework that will encourage growth of a peaceful, safe, responsible and secure space industry that meets New Zealand’s international obligations and manages any liability associated with space launches.
The Outer Space and High Altitude Activities Bill, which is currently before Parliament, is due to pass into law in mid-2017.
Communications Minister Simon Bridges says 31 per cent of New Zealanders with access to Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) are now connected, up 13 per cent in the last three months.
The December 2016 Quarterly Broadband Update released today shows the number of households, business, schools and hospitals connected to UFB has increased from 288,790 to 327,864 since September 2016.
“It’s fantastic to see more and more Kiwis getting on board with UFB. The Government invested in fibre to catalyse uptake and the level of demand so far has been strong, with New Zealand boasting the second highest growth rate for fibre subscriptions in the OECD,” Mr Bridges says.
Today’s update also shows that deployment of the first phase of the UFB programme is 71 per cent complete, with 21 towns now fully fibred. This means more than 1,060,000 New Zealand households and businesses are now able to access download speeds of up to 1000 Megabits per second.
The extension to the UFB programme, which was announced at the end of January, will see another 423,000 New Zealanders able to access fibre by the end of 2024 across a further 151 towns.
“By the end of 2024, more than 84 per cent of New Zealanders will have access to UFB fibre under both phases of the Government’s UFB programme.
“Access to fast and reliable internet helps create an environment for economic growth – it’s critical to helping businesses and communities right across New Zealand thrive,” Mr Bridges says.
Alongside the UFB programme, the Government’s Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) is continuing to deliver faster broadband to priority users and rural communities outside of UFB areas.
“Over 300,000 rural households and businesses are now able to access faster broadband of over five Megabits per second.
“The Government is focused on continuing to improve broadband service in more rural and remote areas through the second phase of RBI, and improving mobile coverage on state highways and in tourism locations with the Mobile Black Spot Fund,” Mr Bridges says.
A Request for Proposals for $150 million in funding for phase two of RBI and the Mobile Black Spot Fund closes on 3 April 2017.
The Quarterly Broadband Update is compiled and released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
Further information about the Government’s UFB and RBI programmes is available at http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/technology-communications/fast-broadband/documents-image-library/dec-16-quarterly-broadband-deployment-update.pdf.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges says the indicative route announced today for a new motorway between Auckland and Northland is a significant step forward in improving travel between the two regions.
The Indicative Route shows the progress being made in developing the Government’s Warkworth to Wellsford section of the Pūhoi to Wellsford Road of National Significance.
“Improving this road is part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring transport infrastructure is in place to connect communities, get people to places of work and freight to key export markets, which are all vital in helping Northland’s economy grow,” Mr Bridges says.
“It will reduce the overall travel time between Warkworth and Te Hana by bypassing town centres, and avoiding the steep and winding Dome Valley.
“The straighter road alignment will also reduce the high crash rate through this area and reduce congestion and frustrations for motorists that often get stuck behind slow moving heavy vehicles.”
The Indicative Route is predicted to reduce the current number of deaths and serious injuries by 80 per cent.
The motorway which travels west of Warkworth and east of both Wellsford and Te Hana, connecting back to State Highway 1 north of Mangawhai Road will also provide ongoing benefits for local communities.
Once built, trucks and heavy vehicles will be diverted around townships, reducing around 90 per cent of through traffic and making them safer for local road users while reducing noise and pollution.
Three interchanges will connect the motorway with Warkworth, Wellsford at Wayby Valley Road and Te Hana at Mangawhai Road.
The Indicative Route will be shared with the public for their feedback which will help further refine the route. A series of public information days will be held starting on 18 February.
The Transport Agency will seek to protect the route for future construction by applying for consents by 2018.
More information is available at www.nzta.govt.nz/warkworth-wellsford.
Excavators have moved on-site and physical work will begin next week clearing the large slips on State Highway 1 to the north of Kaikoura, Transport Minister Simon Bridges has announced today.
“This is good news not only for Kaikoura but also the rest of New Zealand as we begin to rebuild the road and rail networks that are critical to supporting our economy, to keeping these communities connected and boosting the prosperity of this region,” Mr Bridges says.
Over the last two months, engineers and work crews have been sluicing the slips by helicopter, making the sites safe for machinery and workers to move on-site, and doing the planning necessary to ensure that rapid progress is made once on-site work begins.
“Throughout this process the team has developed a work programme that will protect the environment and cultural values of the area, while ensuring that we can deliver a more resilient and safer transport network,” Mr Bridges says.
“I understand that people have been anxious to see this work get underway, and I’m confident that we will see strong progress in the weeks ahead as crews work both from the north and south to clear the slips and make each site safe for the rebuild to begin.”
Equipment has been moved on-site at Irongate, about 1km north of Blue Duck Road and at the slip site 300m north of Ohau Point.
It is expected to take about three weeks to clear the Irongate slip and make it safe to build an access road around the site. This will then enable the excavator to move north, building access tracks around three other slips to reach Ohau Point.
Construction of these tracks will also open up some limited access for residents at Rakautara, who have been isolated between the slips since November.
Slip clearance is expected to get underway within the next few weeks at Ohau Point, one of the biggest and most complex of the nine significant slips along this section of SH1.
Helicopter sluicing will continue on the remainder of the large slips, making these safe for clearance work to begin as soon as practical.
Communications Minister Simon Bridges today confirmed details of the Government’s new approach to regulating fixed line communications services from 2020, and released a consultation paper which seeks feedback on the regulation of the copper network.
“We need a modern communications regime that reflects our increasingly digital world and that delivers better broadband for New Zealanders,” Mr Bridges says.
“The new regime is designed to provide long-term certainty for the sector, and to support ongoing innovation and investment. Ultimately, this will result in better services for consumers, with consistently improving broadband speeds and quality at competitive prices.”
In July 2016 the Government released an options paper which set out the details of the new ‘utility-style’ regime for fixed line communications services provided on the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) network and Chorus’ copper network.
“We received a range of feedback from industry and consumer groups about how the new regime would work in practice and can now confirm the details of our reform package for the UFB network, which will be implemented from 2020,” Mr Bridges says.
“Following further consideration and analysis we have decided to take a different approach to the regulation of copper services, and focus the new regulations primarily on New Zealand’s fibre network. We’re seeking feedback on this proposal and on changes to the Telecommunications Service Obligation (TSO) through the consultation document released today.”
In areas where UFB or other fibre is available, the Government is proposing to deregulate the copper network from 2020 and remove the TSO obligation.
In areas where UFB or other fibre is not available, the TSO obligation will be retained and Chorus will be required to continue supplying copper services at prices capped at 2019 levels. This will ensure consumers continue to have access to basic services at competitive prices, even when alternative networks are not available.
Submissions on the consultation paper close on 3 March 2017. For more detail and to make a submission visit www.mbie.govt.nz/telcoreview.