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Nelson this week gets more tax and more talk on transport. What we need is a clear plan and action.

This Wednesday petrol taxes go up 4 cents a litre and Road User Charges (RUC) increase 5%. This is the fourth increase in three years. The Government has added 20 cents a litre in extra tax since 2017 bringing the total fuel tax to 70 cents/litre. These tax hikes, particularly RUC, flow onto the cost of everything in Nelson with most goods like groceries trucked in. The Government should not be adding costs when households and businesses are hurting so much.

A total of now $100 million per year is being taken in taxes and RUC from Nelson and Tasman yet investment in our roads is at an all-time low.  Labour canned National’s commitment in 2017 to fund and build the Southern Link. In 2019 they cancelled the $6 million quiet seal upgrade for SH6 in Atawhai and Stoke. $7 billion of nationwide roading projects were announced in January but nothing for Nelson or Tasman. We are paying more for less.

This week also begins consultation on NZTA’s/NCC Nelson Future Access Project in yet another round of talks on how to connect Nelson’s city and port with the wider region. Our congestion problems will get worse next month with the completion of the Princes Drive intersection and traffic lights on Waimea Road.

The short term plan (to 2028) proposes nothing that will ease congestion and is focused on improving walking and cycling. It proposes road narrowing, higher city parking charges and lower speed limits.

The long term plan looks at three options for the 2030s.  Option 1 is TWO CLEARWAYS along the existing Waimea Road and Tahunanui Rocks Road route (cost $235m). It is awful for the hundreds of homes along both routes. Clearways did not work for SH1 north of Wellington causing many accidents and fatalities and is why they are now building Transmission Gully.

Option 2 involves FOUR LANING THE COASTAL ROUTE from Annesbrook through Tahunanui to the Port (cost $520m). This option ruins Nelson’s beautiful waterfront, has significant impacts on heritage and is bad for Tahunanui and its beach.

Option 3 is an INLAND ROUTE (was called the Southern Link) along the Railway Reserve and St Vincent Street (cost $205m). It includes connections between St Vincent Street and the city, has smooth quiet seal and noise walls, maintains the cycleway and walkway and proposes designing a new urban village for Victory. This option costs the least, best enables Rocks Road to become a coastal boulevard for cycling and walking, is the shortest route, poses the least disruption to homes and schools and is the most resilient to climate change. 

This report is helpful in highlighting that Nelson’s only practical long term transport plan is progressing this inland route. The tragedy for Nelson is deferring it until 2035. Nelson City will continue to lose business, retailing and jobs to Richmond until it is built. We need to get on with it.

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