Nelson will not be bullied by the New Zealand Transport Agency and will cause a “considerable confrontation” if it cannot spend $22 million in regional road funding as it wants to, mayor Aldo Miccio warned today.

Mr Miccio said the state roading authority would be given “some strong instruction and direction” if it did not back a pedestrian boulevard on Rocks Rd. He demanded that it recognise the need to get heavy vehicles off the State Highway 6 waterfront route.

The $22m is Nelson’s portion of regional funding drawn from excise duty and light vehicle road user charges, to be distributed on the basis of population.

Nelson added the $6m waterfront walkway and cycleway to its spending wish list after a $355,000 arterial traffic study was reported back in August. Other items on the council’s list include a range of intersection improvements and additional traffic lights, a walking and cycling package and the realignment of the Rai Saddle.

The NZTA wants the $22m to fund a stock effluent dump at Hira, improvements to heavy vehicle routes and intersections, and bridge strengthening. It also proposes realigning the Rai Saddle.

Mr Miccio said time was running out for the spending to be decided, with the council facing a deadline of March next year to make its final decisions.

He felt that the NZTA was linking the walkway/cycleway to three-laning of Rocks Rd, in contradiction to the wishes of the community as shown through the arterial traffic study and the Regional Transport Committee.

“The NZTA will come to realise, and will be given some strong instruction and direction, that we as a community are not going to be bullied by them,” he said.

“We will spend our community’s $22 million and possibly more on what we choose and believe is most appropriate to spend it on.”

He said the pedestrian boulevard would be built because the community wanted it.

“We’re not going to be dictated to by the NZTA.

“It is our community and the sooner the NZTA realise there is no future for unsafe heavy vehicles on Rocks Rd the better. The NZTA are on notice for a considerable confrontation come March-April unless they concede earlier.”

The future alternate route for heavy traffic had already been decided by the council and the community.

Spending millions on “unsustainable engineering solutions” to get heavy traffic “in an unsafe manner along our iconic scenic waterfront” was short-sighted, irresponsible and a misuse of taxpayers’ money, Mr Miccio said.

Transport committee chairman Ian Barker said it was important to use the money “owed to Nelson” to guarantee future roading needs, and to start as soon as possible on the pedestrian walkway and cycleway.

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NZTA acting regional director Rod James said the authority would continue to work closely with the transport committee and the council on the draft programme, with public consultation early next year.

Funding had to meet government priorities and align with regional needs, and had a strong focus on road safety, economic growth and productivity.

Approved regional projects were not due until mid-2012, Mr James said.

“The NZTA does have planned maintenance next year on a 500-metre section of Rocks Rd, and we will take account of any future projects that may be proposed along this area as we carry out this pavement rehabilitation.”

– The Nelson Mail