Waka Kotahi announced today that the two West Coast Special Purpose Roads (SPR) located at Jackson Bay and the Karamea Bluff will be fully funded by Waka Kotahi for the coming three years.
These two key transport links for the West Coast were sent on a pathway to move back into the responsibility of the two local councils, being the Buller District Council and Westland District Council.
This would have seen the roads lose their current SPR status, which entitles them to 100% central government funding for all maintenance, upkeep and improvements. A transition back to local councils would have placed a considerable burden on local ratepayers, who would have had to partially fund the ongoing costs.
In a joint statement, Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine and Westland Mayor Helen Lash said: “We are pleased that the Waka Kotahi board have decided to continue fully funding the SPRs for a further three years. This critical issue has been a key concern for both communities and councils for a few years now. This decision is a welcome step in the right direction and a big relief for the local communities in Haast and Karamea.”
The original date for this transition was set for 1 July 2024. With the announcement, funding is secured until the end of the 2024-27 National Land Transport Fund period.
Mr Cleine and Mrs Lash say: “The recent storm events have shown the fragility of these two key roads. Both play a critical role and are the connection to the rest of New Zealand for the Karamea and Haast communities. They also are an economic enabler for the West Coast, channelling goods and people into the West Coast, creating a through-journey and opening the door to the northernmost part of the West Coast”.
Council will work with Waka Kotahi – NZ Transport Agency in the coming years to complete any storm damage repairs and deliver an appropriate investment plan to ensure these key roads remain resilient.
Mr Cleine and Mrs Lash highlight that this excellent outcome shows the benefits of the two councils working together and collaborating to put forward a strong case for ongoing full funding support of our SPRs.
Buller District Council and Westland District Council would like to thank Waka Kotahi for their constructive engagement, advice and openness to find a solution. A key part of the ongoing work will be to find a long-term solution for the future funding of these SPRs for the West Coast community beyond the next three years.