Sunday, June 23, 2024

Hamilton on board with transport plan

Hamilton City Council has welcomed a decision from Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency to help fund transport improvements to connect schools and neighbourhoods across the eastern part of Hamilton.

Confirmed late last year, the funding of $2.8 million – of which Waka Kotahi are providing 51% – is for the consultation and design of School Link, a dedicated project under the Eastern Pathways programme.

The programme aims to deliver a raft of transport improvements along Hukanui and Peachgrove roads, linking the areas where there is a high concentration of schools and education centres with neighbouring areas and the central city.

The vision for School Link is for people to be able to walk safely and confidently, cycle, scooter or catch the bus – reducing the number of cars on the road during school pick-up and drop-off times, and to help ease congestion.

Infrastructure Operations Committee Chair, Councillor Angela O’Leary, welcomed the decision.

“This funding decision is wonderful news and will give Hamiltonians greater choice when it comes to their transport options,” Cr O’Leary said.

“It’s important Council invests in the right transport infrastructure, facilities and connections to keep our city moving – now and in the future.”

Council’s Public Transport and Urban Mobility Programme Delivery Lead, Martin Parkes, has long championed mode choice in transport planning to reduce the city’s reliance on private vehicles.

“The School Link improvements include things like separated cycleways, making it safer people to get safely from home to school or work via bike, scooter and on foot,” Mr Parkes said.

“Importantly, this programme of work is not just helping kids get to school. We’re aiming to reduce school traffic congestion and emissions and will be encouraging people to use active modes of transport along the School Link and key connecting routes – which will benefit all road users.”

The School Link corridor is a key north-south transport route in Hamilton, extending from Hukanui Road in the north to Peachgrove Road in the south, between Wairere Drive and Clyde Street. The School Link route connects 19 schools with over 9,500 students and is surrounded by residential housing, shopping centres, churches, sports fields, and retirement villages.

Although the main School Link route has public transport options and is also used by pedestrians and cyclists, the private car is currently the most frequently used mode of transport along and around the route. Many roads and intersections in the area have a poor safety record involving cyclists and pedestrians.

The funding forms part of the 2021-24 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) announced in September, under which Waka Kotahi guaranteed funding of $163.5 million for transport projects in Hamilton. Under the NLTP, Waka Kotahi co-invests 51% of the cost of approved projects with Council funding the remaining 49%.

The full budget required to deliver School Link is $28 million. The project will be delivered in sections across the next few years, dependent on funding, with the most critical of those to be completed first, Council said in a statement.

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