It’s easy to imagine eyes lighting up in Ashburton at the announcement of over $70 billion for infrastructure in the Budget.
The Ashburton District Council is hopeful there will be funding for its planned second Ashburton/Hakatere bridge somewhere in the forecast $71b investment in infrastructure over the next five years, or the $6b announced to support a National Resilience Plan.
Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown has labelled the estimated $113.6m second bridge a resilience project, and both he and chief executive Hamish Riach had hoped for a signal of funding in the Budget.
Funding for the bridge had been top of the council’s pre-budget wishlist.
Also on that list was co-investment in flood protection, and Riach was pleased to see the Government’s initial $100m boost to help councils invest in future flood resilience.
There is a $279m package for state highways which in Canterbury will be used for debris clearing in water channels on State Highway 79 and 1, to better manage water flows.
There is also a $20m transport resilience fund to support local councils to upgrade local roads.
Riach was waiting for more information about how the fund would be distributed, “but regardless of the detail, the money is very welcome and hopefully a good chunk of it will become available for work on Canterbury’s braided rivers”.
The Mayor’s Task Force for Jobs programme having its funding extended across New Zealand for a further two years was also a boost, Riach said.
The council this year joined the programme, which gets young people into work, and it had been really effective, Riach said.
- By Jonathan Leask