Canterbury transport projects capture 2 per cent of Government spend-up

Canterbury's share of a taxpayer infrastructure spend-up has been described as crumbs that ignore a growing city's transport needs.

The region will get £159 million (2.3 per cent) of the £6.8 billion worth of transport funding announced on Wednesday as part of a £12b Government infrastructure package, despite having about 13 per cent of the nation's population.

More than half of the transport spending (£3.48b) will go to Auckland and a fifth (£1.35b) to Wellington, with both centres the only ones receiving funding for rail projects. New Auckland roads will receive £2.2b.

LAWRENCE SMITH/Stuff Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, flanked by Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Finance Minister Grant Robertson, announces a £12 billion infrastructure package covering transport, schools, hospitals and roads.

Canterbury transport projects to receive funds include safer crossings on Christchurch's busy Brougham St, a 2.5-kilometre bus lane on Halswell Rd, an overbridge at Rolleston, and traffic lights for Ashburton and West Melton. The work will start in 2022.

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Councillor Mike Davidson, who chairs the Christchurch City Council's urban development and transport committee and is a director of economic development and promotional agency ChristchurchNZ, said the city had been largely ignored by a Government that had poured cash into the "squeaky wheels".

"We have once more come out with almost nothing, a crumb. We have shovel-ready projects and they didn't get any funding. If we had additional funding we could on with them - it's such a shame."

Davidson said no money was provided to finish the city's cycleway network, which was proving a major success, or for passenger rail links to tackle commuter problems between the city and the Selwyn and Waimakariri districts.

Delays on State Highway 1 near Rolleston before Christmas.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/STUFF

Delays on State Highway 1 near Rolleston before Christmas.

"Christchurch is New Zealand's second-biggest city and we've got huge growth. Our public transport is lagging behind.

"We need to move pretty quickly or we'll be like Auckland and have gridlock within 10 years."

Davidson said while much of the Government package was economically targeted, that must not come at the expense of social and environmental outcomes.

Ashburton mayor Neil Brown said they were grateful for funding for the two highway crossings but major omissions were four-laning State Highway 1 from Ashburton to Rolleston and a planned second bridge across the Ashburton River.

"There's a lot of deaths on that road - I think it's the second-most dangerous road in the country," Brown said of the State Highway 1 route.

Christchurch City councillor Mike Davidson says the Government has given the city "almost nothing, a crumb".

Joseph Johnson/Stuff Christchurch City councillor Mike Davidson says the Government has given the city "almost nothing, a crumb".

Cabinet minister and Christchurch Labour MP Megan Woods said the funding would "help prepare Canterbury for the future".

"With improvements to road safety, improving travel choices and freight links, this package has the potential to revolutionise the way we get in and around the region."

Woods pointed out that £1.4b had been spent on motorway projects in Christchurch in the last decade.

Other Canterbury projects in the infrastructure package are the refurbishment of South Canterbury's maternity facilities and a new boiler for Timaru Hospital.

Improvements to State Highway 6 in Queenstown costing £90m is the only other South Island transport work to receive funding.

Columnist and commentator Mike Yardley said the funding for Christchurch and the wider South Island was "just crumbs, highly insulting" and "miserly, and pretty clueless in an election year".

Ashburton mayor Neil Brown says he's disappointed no funding was announced to four-lane SH1 between Ashburton and Rolleston.

JOSEPH JOHNSON/STUFF

Ashburton mayor Neil Brown says he's disappointed no funding was announced to four-lane SH1 between Ashburton and Rolleston.

Yardley said funding the Woodend bypass was "a no-brainer" and the Government should have signalled a commitment to "the inevitable" four-laning of the crash-ridden highway between Christchurch and Ashburton.

National's spokesperson for the West Coast, Maureen Pugh, said the package was a "tragic wasted opportunity", which overlooked the coast and Tasman regions

"It's hard to see how the Government's transport plans won't come at the expense of investment on the West Coast when billions of dollars are being ripped from the regions to pay for trams in Auckland. This Government has taken a lot from the West Coast and is failing to give anything back."

Congestion after a SH1 crash between Christchurch and Rolleston in December.

CTOC

Congestion after a SH1 crash between Christchurch and Rolleston in December.

CANTERBURY TRANSPORT PROJECTS

- Work on the Christchurch upgrades will start in 2022 and take two years.

- Brougham St's £40m upgrade will improve traffic flow to keep freight moving, and create north-south links for pedestrians, cyclists and buses crossing the road.

- Bus lanes will be built over 18 months from 2022 on a 2.5km stretch of Halswell Rd at a cost of £25m.

- Work costing £60m at Rolleston will create a two-lane road overbridge across the highway linking the township to the industrial area, and improve SH1 intersections between Rolleston and Burnham.

- Traffic lights will be added to improve highway crossing safety at Tinwald, Ashburton and West Melton at a cost of £34m.

Brougham St near Selwyn St in Christchurch.

CTOC

Brougham St near Selwyn St in Christchurch.

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