Perspectives 2019: New agenda for land transport

By Brett Gliddon,  NZTA general manager System Design and Delivery

Last year’s Government Policy Statement on land transport and adoption of the 2018-21 National Land Transport Programme signalled a significantly different agenda for land transport.

The close relationship the Transport Agency enjoys with the contracting industry gives us a solid foundation to successfully manage the future.

I am proud the Transport Agency is leading the transformation of land transport: To create a system that is free of death and serious injury, upgrading public transport, giving people more travel choice and making it easier from them to connect with their homes, jobs, family, friends and education.  It is an achievable goal – one with many opportunities but one the Transport Agency cannot deliver on its own.

The Transport Agency is working more closely with local government to co-create and deliver what will be our biggest- ever investment in land transport. We can only deliver these projects with the support of the contracting industry and our supply chain partners.

There is much to be done. Reducing death and serious injury is a clear priority in the Government Policy Statement and is at the core of the Transport Agency’s purpose.

There is a renewed sense of urgency – too many people are dying in crashes. The personal cost is too high – the tragic loss of someone who may be family or a friend – and so, too, is the social cost: Around $84 million a week or almost $4.7 billion a year.

The Transport Agency is implementing the Safe Networks Programme, working with local government and other road safety partners to prioritise and deliver proven safety interventions along high-risk routes across our country.

Specific priorities include upgrading dangerous intersections and corners; installing side and median barriers, rumble strips and anti-skid surfaces; upgrading level crossings; helping deliver more effective road policing; introducing safe and appropriate speed limits; and the promotion of road safety.

Many of the successes the industry and the Transport Agency celebrated together in 2018 included:

  • The North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery Alliance and the communities it worked with shared a welcome milestone in April when SH1 opened 24/7. The Kaikoura earthquake recovery programme beat off nine other international projects to deservedly win the People’s Choice Award from the British-based Institution of Civil Engineers for what the Institution described as “an exceptional feat of engineering”.


  • Construction underway of the main works for the Northern Corridor Improvements in Auckland, better connecting SHs 1 and 18, and including seven kilometres of separated walking and cycling paths and an extension of the Northern Busway corridor to improve travel choices.


  • Identification of a preferred route for Te Ahu a Turanga for SH3 across the Ruahine Ranges will provide a safer and more resilient alternative to the closed Manawatu Gorge route.


  • The SH2 Watchman Road project in Napier was an excellent example of the Transport Agency and its contractors working successfully with different groups – local government, iwi, conservationists, road users and Hawkes Bay Airport – to get the best possible safety outcome from the upgrade of a high-risk rural intersection.


  • Replacing the last road/rail bridge over the Taramakau River on SH6 near Greymouth with a new road-only crossing not only built resilience into this critical economic lifeline route but it also improved safety for motorcyclists, and separated walking and cycling from heavy traffic.


  • The opening of the two-lane Kawarau Falls Bridge on SH6 has increased capacity to support tourism and commercial growth in the Queenstown area.



Changes are being made to make it easier for the Transport Agency and the industry to work together – taking off the brakes to introduce simpler and more effective decision making, and emphasising urgency with delivery.

At the same time, we are looking for innovation and lessons learned from the industry.

Contractors will benefit from the greater level of transport funding being provided for local government in the 2018-21 NLTP. We’re making it easier for councils to access additional funds to bring forward important projects within their communities and reducing costs for ratepayers.

There is no shortage of work, despite the shift away from a small number of large-scale road projects. There is more money than ever in the NLTP to support community-based transport projects:  improved safety on local roads, extending dedicated walking/cycling paths, expanding public transport services, building resilience into the local transport systems, and making improvements to local roads.

A second safety programme, running alongside Safe Networks, is much closer to home – one that ensures anyone working on a Transport Agency site gets home safely at the end of the day.

There has been excellent co-operation already between the industry and the Transport Agency to improve workplace safety and I welcome the decision to include new initiatives for the mental well-being of people as well as their physical wellbeing.

Some of those new initiatives are already being rolled out and more are to come. Again, changes are planned inside the Transport Agency to reflect the importance it is giving to lifting health and safety standards.

The contracting industry and the Transport Agency have a proven record of working closely together to achieve the best possible outcomes for New Zealand.

It is this relationship that sets us up to respond to our customers, the people of New Zealand who use and rely on the land transport system.

They are asking us to deliver services faster; respond to rapid technological change; meet the challenges of Auckland’s growth; support regional priorities; and most importantly, to deliver the Government’s significantly different objectives for transport – that is our challenge for 2019.



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