Transport Choices Initiative gets the nod in Hamilton

Hamilton works on varied transport choices, added options for cyclists (Photo Supplied)

Praneeta Mahajan

Hamilton, February 21, 2023

A $37 million package of upgrades has been given the go-ahead to improve biking, walking and public transport options in Hamilton.

Hamilton City Council recently approved the Transport Choices Initiative Funding Agreement with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency in which the transport agency will fund $33.2 million towards the proposed 28 climate friendly transport projects. The Council will contribute $3.8 million to bring the total package of projects to $37 million.

Deputy Mayor and Chair of the Infrastructure and Transport Committee, Angela O’Leary, said the funding means the Council can bring forward 28 important transport upgrades. She said, “This funding will help us join the dots between more parts of the city. The projects are relatively simple upgrades that will make a big difference. These projects will really start to open up the city.”

The proposed 28 projects, due to be completed by 2024, range from footpath upgrades to new bike and walkway connections.

Hamilton City Council’s Public Transport and Urban Mobility Manager, Martin Parkes, said that while the list of projects looked imposing, most were relatively small in scale. “It is a suite of small to medium changes that we can make around the city,” he said.

Mr Parkes said there were simple “tweaks” that would enhance existing infrastructure, such as improving bike lanes along Killarney Road so that commuters and students could connect more easily to the Western Rail Trail.

He said, “The Western Rail Trail is an excellent off-road facility but first you have to get there. With this funding, we can make it safer for people to bike from Frankton to the rail trail so they can get more easily into town or school.”

Mr Parkes said the proposed 28 projects were at various stages of development, with concept designs and project plans required to be signed off by Elected Members through the Infrastructure Operations Committee before formal community engagement.

Ms O’Leary was confident, saying, “The council’s transport strategy clearly shows us what we need to do to make it safer and more enjoyable for people to move around the city. It is all about opening up our streets and helping people get to where they need to go safely and efficiently.”

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency announced in December 2022 that Hamilton City Council would receive a one-off grant from the Transport Choices investment package. Since then, The Council and transport agency staff had been working to confirm the final number and budget of projects that would move forward.

In a media statement, the Council announced Proposed projects which would include the following:

Getting ready for all transport options (Photo Supplied)

Strategic cycling and micro-mobility Projects- Bader Street connection to River Path, and Hospital, Killarney Road – SH1C Greenwood Street to Western Rail Trail (WRT), Gallagher Drive and Kahikatea Drive, Heaphy Terrace – Boundary Road to Brooklyn Road, Pedestrian crossing on Brooklyn Road and cycle Lane development, Claudelands Park Connection, End of Trip Facilities – Bike and Scooter Parking, Frankton East / Lake Domain to Western Rail Trail, Level Crossing – Killarney Road, Bike Parklets – Grey Street, St Andrews Shops, and Barton Street, Western Rail Trail (WRT) to Frankton Station, Rifle Range Road – SH23 (Massey Street) to Avalon Drive (SH1C), Hall Street/Mill Street – between Kent Street and Victoria Street, Riverlea connections, Killarney Road – Queens Avenue to Western Rail Trail, and Level crossings – Claudelands East and Brooklyn Road.

Public transport– Bus shelter replacements, Thackeray Street bus stops, Hukanui Road bus stops, Horsham Downs Road, Lake Road/Commerce Street roundabout, Rotokauri Road / Baverstock Road bus stop and accessibility, Hyde Avenue bus stop and accessibility, Pembroke Street bus stops, and Anglesea Street (south) bus stop improvement.

Walkable neighbourhoods- Tristram Street/Anzac Parade – walking and cycling link from Palmerston to Clarence Street, Hayes Paddock – crossing, bus stop improvement and intersection reconstruction. Bike parking and local interactive space, River Road footpath western side – Kirikiriroa Bridge to Comries Road.

Transport Choices is an investment package within the Waka Kotahi Climate Emergency Response Programme that supports the local councils to begin immediate work for reduction of emissions by developing safer, greener and healthier travel options. Transport in Hamilton currently makes up about 64% of the city’s total emissions.

Transport Choices funding is currently indicative until Waka Kotahi works with the councils to explore how projects can be progressed in line with Transport Choices timeframes. Funding allocations may be adjusted after this consultation.

Funding decisions will be finalised once the project list and detail are confirmed between the Council and Waka Kotahi.

Hamilton has recently got a major boost for cycling options with the newly finished and now open 65 km scenic river ride between Ngāruawāhia and Karapiro, 20km south of the Mighty River Domain at Lake Karapiro. The route weaves through rural and urban landscapes, taking in waterfalls and historic Maori sites as well as trendy shops, cafes and wineries.

Another popular trail is the Hamilton river trail which spans across the Hamilton city centre. The track is well signposted and can be accessed at multiple points along the river. It stretches between Pukete in the north, where it links with the nearby Hamilton Mountain Bike Track in Pukete Farm Park, and Hamilton Gardens in the south. It is suitable for riders of all fitness and experience levels. The track is shared by walkers, and cyclists should ride with care to ensure the safety of all users.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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