Port roundabout 'urgent'

SAFETY HOTSPOT: A port-bound logging truck turns into Hirini Street where East Coast MP Anne Tolley says a $2 million roundabout is needed. Mrs Tolley says the intersection requires “urgent attention” and financial support from the Government’s regional development fund. Picture by Liam Clayton

EAST Coast MP Anne Tolley has lobbied Regional Development Minister Shane Jones to tell him the turn-off to Eastland Port requires a roundabout worth approximately $2 million and is “an urgent project for your attention”.

The National MP and former Cabinet minister told The Herald she had previously had “considerable comments from locals concerned about the dangers of the port entrance and the growing numbers of trucks turning, mixed with commuters, school kids and other users”.

“During discussions with the port, I discovered considerable work had been done on a possible roundabout to assist those safety concerns.

“I understand the costings are pretty raw but are expected to be about $2 million.

“I had raised this with my ministerial colleagues pre-election, as the project has been included in longer-term priority work and I believed it could and should be a stand-alone road safety project.

“Accordingly, I included it in the issues I raised initially with the new Minister for Regional Economic Development.

“It would be a small project with huge impact on both residents and our busy productive port.”

The new Labour-led Government has an annual $1 billion regional development fund, with New Zealand First keen to target the provinces.

Mr Jones this week told The New Zealand Herald that Gisborne to Opotiki, Northland, Whanganui-Manawatu, and the West Coast of the South Island were four regions that would benefit greatly from the fund.

Mrs Tolley told Mr Jones that as East Coast MP she was always available to “talk more about the opportunities to grow the economies and lift the aspirations and economics of those who live in this great part of New Zealand.”

Great opportunities

Gisborne and the East Coast had great opportunities and potential for regional development, but roading infrastructure was the big issue.

Mrs Tolley said industry, local government and their economic agent Activate Tairawhiti were working to produce a report prioritising their state highway (SH) routes and investment needs on SH2 and SH35.

“State Highway 35 up the East Coast is extremely challenging geologically, but is rapidly developing as a tourist route, especially for mobile home and campervan tourists.

“This is compounded by the busy forestry industry, which has increasing truck numbers taking product to the very successful Gisborne Port.

“LeaderBrand have invested heavily in their own infrastructure but need to be sure their products can get to their markets.

Mrs Tolley said other urgent work was required, including on the roads servicing the forestry harvest.

“Because of the unstable land and the very wet winter, and the high use by the forestry industry, many of these roads are almost unusable.

“I had a meeting just prior to the election with Federated Farmers and forestry representatives who are working with Gisborne District Council on a package for this roading season to ensure harvesting can continue.

“They told me that without this work up to 20 percent of the harvest might not be realised over the next few years.

“This is a region that has enormous potential, both in its resources and its people, and I urge you to focus some of your immediate attention on ensuring that potential can be realised,”

Mrs Tolley, the former Minister of Social Development, congratulated Mr Jones on holding “such an important portfolio as regional development”.

Mayor Meng Foon said he acknowledged Mrs Tolley’s lobbying of the minister.

Mr Foon said the area into the port was congested and “certainly needs attention urgently”.

The number of trucks going to the port totalled over 120,000 in a year.

“I will follow up and talk more directly to the Minister of Transport as well for more roading funding support,” he said.

EAST Coast MP Anne Tolley has lobbied Regional Development Minister Shane Jones to tell him the turn-off to Eastland Port requires a roundabout worth approximately $2 million and is “an urgent project for your attention”.

The National MP and former Cabinet minister told The Herald she had previously had “considerable comments from locals concerned about the dangers of the port entrance and the growing numbers of trucks turning, mixed with commuters, school kids and other users”.

“During discussions with the port, I discovered considerable work had been done on a possible roundabout to assist those safety concerns.

“I understand the costings are pretty raw but are expected to be about $2 million.

“I had raised this with my ministerial colleagues pre-election, as the project has been included in longer-term priority work and I believed it could and should be a stand-alone road safety project.

“Accordingly, I included it in the issues I raised initially with the new Minister for Regional Economic Development.

“It would be a small project with huge impact on both residents and our busy productive port.”

The new Labour-led Government has an annual $1 billion regional development fund, with New Zealand First keen to target the provinces.

Mr Jones this week told The New Zealand Herald that Gisborne to Opotiki, Northland, Whanganui-Manawatu, and the West Coast of the South Island were four regions that would benefit greatly from the fund.

Mrs Tolley told Mr Jones that as East Coast MP she was always available to “talk more about the opportunities to grow the economies and lift the aspirations and economics of those who live in this great part of New Zealand.”

Great opportunities

Gisborne and the East Coast had great opportunities and potential for regional development, but roading infrastructure was the big issue.

Mrs Tolley said industry, local government and their economic agent Activate Tairawhiti were working to produce a report prioritising their state highway (SH) routes and investment needs on SH2 and SH35.

“State Highway 35 up the East Coast is extremely challenging geologically, but is rapidly developing as a tourist route, especially for mobile home and campervan tourists.

“This is compounded by the busy forestry industry, which has increasing truck numbers taking product to the very successful Gisborne Port.

“LeaderBrand have invested heavily in their own infrastructure but need to be sure their products can get to their markets.

Mrs Tolley said other urgent work was required, including on the roads servicing the forestry harvest.

“Because of the unstable land and the very wet winter, and the high use by the forestry industry, many of these roads are almost unusable.

“I had a meeting just prior to the election with Federated Farmers and forestry representatives who are working with Gisborne District Council on a package for this roading season to ensure harvesting can continue.

“They told me that without this work up to 20 percent of the harvest might not be realised over the next few years.

“This is a region that has enormous potential, both in its resources and its people, and I urge you to focus some of your immediate attention on ensuring that potential can be realised,”

Mrs Tolley, the former Minister of Social Development, congratulated Mr Jones on holding “such an important portfolio as regional development”.

Mayor Meng Foon said he acknowledged Mrs Tolley’s lobbying of the minister.

Mr Foon said the area into the port was congested and “certainly needs attention urgently”.

The number of trucks going to the port totalled over 120,000 in a year.

“I will follow up and talk more directly to the Minister of Transport as well for more roading funding support,” he said.

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

winston moreton - 5 days ago
Will Shane take the bait?
What a wonderful headline today, Port Roundabout Urgent. Urgent for who? Speaking on the front page today our MP Anne Tolley shows the National Party intends to work harder for the East Coast electorate, if that is possible, than ever before. She informs us that she has lobbied Minister of Regional Development Shane Jones for $2 million after "considerable comments from locals about the dangers of the port entrance". And during discussions with, surprise surprise, the port itself she "understands the costings for a roundabout are expected to be about $2 million". If we allow an extra $3m for the usual unforeseen ground conditions then we already have more than enough for the new Minister of Regional Development to repair the railway bridge destroyed on Mrs Tolley's watch in 2012. A repair project that 10,000 residents supported by petition to her. A repair project which will reduce the dangers Mrs Tolley refers to "of trucks turning, mixed with commuters, school kids and other users" because log trucks will go to out-of-town rail depots. A repair project which will provide a tourism link to Napier and local producers with an alternative bulk carrier. Why, I ask, is our MP still listening to ECT-controlled Activate Tairawhiti and the ECT-owned port company which is set to spend $60m on expansion? Is she being mischievous in the hope Mr Jones might take the bait and go for a seeming cheaper option and alienate the 10,000 voters?
Mayor Meng Foon, who is an ECT trustee, also seems keen to support this initiative to seek government regional funding for the roundabout.
In this newspaper on September 14, Mayor Foon is quoted as saying Eastland Port had gone from receiving 17,000 loaded logging trucks in 2004 to 89,301 logging trucks a year, and estimates provided to him by the port suggested that would increase to 104,107 logging trucks a year over the 2017-18 financial year.

Anne Salmond - 5 days ago
This is a bit rich. The former government strongly supported plantation forestry on the East Coast, adding taxpayer to ratepayer subsidies for this industry, which is largely owned offshore. 104,107 logging trucks to the port over the coming financial year means a huge and predictable load on a collapsing road network in Te Tairawhiti.

Rural residents suffer greatly from streams of logging trucks on narrow, shingled roads, with dust clouds, noise, damage to their own vehicles as well as to roads and bridges, and the danger of head-on collisions or being driven off the road. It's not just urban residents who have to put up with these kinds of risks. That's not even counting the damage to soils, rivers and harbours in Te Tairawhiti.

So who's going to pay? It adds insult to injury to ask local people (many of whom live on low incomes) to subsidise the costs of forestry operations through their taxes, as the former Minister suggests; through their rates (as GDC has got into the habit of doing); and through investments by community-owned assets such as Eastland Group and ECT - especially when the bulk of the profits leave the Tairawhiti and New Zealand.

The last government had nine years to make sure that those who profit from forestry on the East Coast pay their fair share of the infrastructural costs involved. Instead, they sat by and watched as offshore forestry owners expatriated the profits and passed on many of the costs to the local community.

Note of correction:

As for Julian Kohn's column, 'Forestry Proactive,'
It was wrong to suggest that I'm unwilling to meet with EWC. Prue Younger of EWC and I had already agreed to get together soon.

At the same time, it's great to hear that the forestry industry on the East Coast is prepared to pay its fair share of the sky-rocketing costs of maintaining roads in the region (including the recent $6.3 million blow-out in GDC's roading budget).

All ratepayers will be delighted to hear this good news.

wiki gerrard - 5 days ago
Wow, are you for real Anne Tolley - now you want to do something for Gisborne? Where have you been for the past nine years?

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Do you think the benefits of forestry to the region outweigh its negative impacts?
    See also: