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NZTA emissions project seeks test vehicles

The NZTA has embarked on an emissions testing project with two Auckland consultancies, and has made a call for diesel vehicles to take part.

A 2012 report for the NZTA found that harmful emissions from vehicles cause 256 premature deaths (with social costs of $934 million) annually in New Zealand.

The research is a joint effort between Emission Impossible Ltd and AirQuality Ltd, and will be using a portable emissions measurement system (PEMS) to test real-world fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions from vehicles – a first in New Zealand for on-road emissions testing.

The project is an NZ Transport Agency research project which aims to improve our understanding of real world emissions and fuel consumption in New Zealand.

The project is looking for vehicles built to a range of emission standards, including light duty petrol and diesel vehicles and to heavy duty trucks.

A list of the vehicle types the project is looking to test.

Testing is scheduled to be undertaken in Auckland over October and November this year.

The project is one of several NZTA initiatives that seeks to reduce emissions in, others including subsidies for electric vehicles, the emissions trading scheme and the Heavy Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Programme, launched 2012.

Interest in the emissions testing project can be expressed via phone or email to Gerda Kuschel at Emission Impossible on 09 629 1435, or email at gerda@emissionimpossible.co.nz.

 

 

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EV owners to benefit from rule change

Electric Vehicle (EV) owners should benefit from a rule change where they will be exempt from road user charges and can possibly use bus and high occupancy vehicles lanes, when driving their EV.

According to transport minister Simon Bridges, as of 1 September, 2017 heavy EVS will be exempt from road user charges until they make up two per cent of New Zealand’s heavy vehicle fleet.

“Light EVs are already exempt from paying road user charges until 31 December 2021. On top of all of the other benefits that EVs generate, extending this exemption to heavy EVs will offer a significant cost reduction to the operators of these vehicles,” Bridges says.

Changes have also been made to Land Transport rules, which from 1 September, will enable road controlling authorities, such as the NZ Transport Agency and local and regional councils, to make bylaws to allow EVs access to special vehicle lanes, such as those dedicated to buses and high occupancy vehicles.

“The positive acceptance of EVs in New Zealand is having real benefits. We are now offering more choice in new EVs than ever before. We are also seeing an increase in the number of used EVs importers are bringing into the country,” Bridges says.

In May 2016, the Government announced its Electric Vehicle Programme, a wide ranging package of measures to encourage the uptake of EVs in New Zealand. The target is to double the fleet each year, reaching 64,000 EV registrations by the end of 2021.

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NZTA discusses speed rules

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is in the middle of discussions in relation to speed management on the roads. 

(more…)

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$11b for NZ infrastructure

Minister of Finance Steven Joyce has pledged an extra $4 billion on New Zealand infrastructure ahead of next month’s Budget announcement, with a focus on reinvesting in roads across the country.

“In some parts of New Zealand, including Auckland, you can’t move for road cones at times, which is frustrating,” he says during a speech to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce.

State Highway 1 and the rail line north and south of Kaikoura, which was badly damaged in the earthquake last November, was singled out by Joyce. Costs are now expected to hover between $1.1 and $1.3 billion, below initial forecasts.

“The Government’s priority is to restore the pre-earthquake transport links to Kaikoura and its surrounding communities, and ensure these vital links are resilient for the long term,” Transport Minister Simon Bridges says in a separate statement.

“To make sure this work continues at pace, Budget 2017 will provide up to $812 million to reinstate State Highway 1 between Picton and Christchurch.”

Capital infrastructure spending, including roads, is also set to receive a huge boost in the next Budget, with $11 billion earmarked during the next four years.

This is almost double the $4.8 billion in funding allocated during the previous four years.

“We are investing hugely in new schools, hospitals, housing, roads, and railways. This investment will extend that run-rate significantly, and include new investment in the justice and defence sectors as well,” Joyce says.

Combined with the investment made through the National Land Transport fund, this totals $23 billion of funding for infrastructure over the next four years.

“We want to extend that further, with greater use of public-private partnerships, and joint ventures between central and local government, and private investors,” Joyce says.

Road Transport Forum chief executive officer Ken Shirley has welcomed the funding boost.

“With our growing population and expanding economy the burden on our transport infrastructure is becoming acute. The freight task alone is expected to increase by around 70 per cent over the next 25 years,” he says.

“The devil will be in the detail of course, but the transport industry looks forward to budget day and more information on where the first $4 billion will be spent.”

But Labour’s finance spokesman, Grant Robertson, calls the announcement “underwhelming”.

“The new spending announced today is only enough to buy 650 metres of the Auckland Central Rail Loop each year,” he says.

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Bridges appoints new NZTA board members

Transport minister Simon Bridges has announced new appointments to the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) board, which has eight members.

The new NZTA board appointees are former Mayor of Queenstown, Vanessa van Uden and professional director Mark Darrow.

“Ms van Uden brings a new perspective, along with her local government experience,” says Bridges. As well as the mayor between 2010 and 2016, van Uden has worked in governance, accounting and contract management.

“Mr Darrow has wide-ranging governance experience, and Chairs the Audit and Risk Committee for the Counties Manukau District Health Board. His appointment brings extensive transport knowledge and an injection of fresh energy to the NZTA’s Board,” Bridges says.

Darrow has a long history with the transport sector and has been a director for the Motor Trade Association since 2012. He is also a director for Dekra New Zealand and the Armstrong Motor Group.

Bridges has also reappointed Adrienne Young-Cooper to the board, who has been an NZTA board member since 2011 and is a member of the Investment and Operations Committee

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Northland to review roading plan

A required three-year review into Northland’s broader transport plan has begun.

The Regional Land Transport Plan from 2015-2021 examines local roading projects proposed by the region’s three district council, state highway projects and strategic projects and public transport issues addressed by the Northland Regional Council.

Regional councillor John Bain, who chairs the Northland Regional Transport Committee, says the review is a legal requirement. This particular review will determine whether the region’s land transport problems have changed significantly in the past three years.

“It will also ascertain if there are any new large roading projects that may need to be included in the plan,” Bain said.

“Over the coming months, the review process will involve a tremendous deal of support and input from our partner organisations; the three district councils, NZTA as the state highway and national road funding body and the New Zealand Police.”

Many Northland roads are in significant need of development. Approximately 3000km of roads remain unsealed, and the numerous one-lane bridges scattered throughout the region became a point of political debate in the 2015 by-election.

Towns such as Paihia, Whangarei and Kerikeri have become popular tourist destinations for locals, particularly Aucklanders, and international tourists, and the roading system is struggling to cope with demand. 

With the Northland Port taking on more cargo, the recent addition of further freight trucks onto the roads had created further strain, with local and national funding stretched.

The use of heavy trucks on unsealed roads has become a major concern for locals in Pipiwai, who cite the constant dust as a major health hazard. In February, the government agreed to seal the dangerous road, but other roads in the region remain unattended.

“We’re still faced with securing regional route resilience and security, addressing dust from unsealed roads, striving to reduce the region’s poor road safety record and a continuing increase in the number of heavy vehicles on our roads,” Bain said.

He expects more large-scale projects to be included in the latest review, which will then be released for public consultation “later this year.”

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Lower speed limits for Kāpiti roads


A new speed limit will apply to certain Kāpiti roads affected as part of the Expressway project from April 12. The changes come after six weeks of consultation between the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), The Mackays to Peka Peka Alliance and the Kāpiti Coast District Council late last year.

The motion to approve the new speed limits was passed unanimously by the Council.

From 12 April, temporary speed limits that were put in place during the construction of the Mackays to Peka Peka Expressway on Emerald Glen Road, Waterfall Road near Mackays Crossing, Ratanui Road, and Otaihanga Road in Otaihanga will be removed and replaced with a 60km/h speed limit.

Some sections of the roadways, particularly Waterfall Road, are unsealed.

A 60km/h speed limit will also be applied to Ngā Manu Reserve Road and Maurice Smith Way in Waikanae once construction is complete.

Temporary speed limits at the Poplar Avenue interchange will be removed and replaced with a 50km/h speed limit along the entire avenue once construction is finished.

Temporary speed limits on Hadfield Link and Te Kowhai Link Roads will also be removed once construction is complete, and replaced with an 80 km/h speed limit.

NZTA highway manager Neil Walker says the revised speed limits are in response to changes in traffic on local roads now that the Mackays to Peka Peka Expressway is open.

“The speed limits reflect the function of these roads and aim to minimise harm on roads that have been newly created or reconfigured as part of the Expressway project,” he said..

“The changes take into account technical assessments of suitable speed limits, and feedback received from the Kāpiti Coast community.”

The $630 million Mackays to Peka Peka Expressway is 18km four-lane highway along the Kāpiti Coast, and is part of a larger project, the Wellington Northern Corridor, which will provide much-needed roading between Wellington and key regional towns.

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EV charging infrastructure guidance released

The NZTA has published guidance on public charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, a move labelled timely by transport minister Simon Bridges. The guidance will support public charging infrastructure by providing clear recommendations for both investors and operators enabling the development of charging sites, including local authorities.

“This guidance is an important step towards developing a safe and consistent nationwide charging network that EV drivers can depend on,” Bridges said in a statement. “It not only marks an important milestone in the government’s EV programme, but will help reassure drivers that EVs are the way of the future and here to stay.”

There are currently 2,500 EV’s in New Zealand, in excess of all government targets. “While we expect most charging will continue to take place at home or the workplace,” Bridges added, “reliable public charging infrastructure is crucial to provide drivers with the confidence to make longer trips. It can also influence the decision to buy one.”

New Zealand’s network of public charging infrastructure for EVs is currently being established. There is not yet enough charges installed to assure nationwide coverage, and the NZTA noted the opportunity to create a “cohesive” national network. The guidance specifies that the charging sites use recommended connectors and socket outlets, have universally-accessible payment methods such as credit card systems or open billing platforms, is clearly sign-posted, is recorded and kept up-to-date on PlugShare, stating that the station complies with the NZTA guidelines, and has real-time monitoring to ensure its reliability.

The guidance and information about the programme of work can be found at www.nzta.govt.nz/ev and www.electricvehicles.govt.nz.

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NZTA dam monitoring

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has installed dam-monitoring equipment upstream of the State Highway 1 bridge at Hapuku, north of Kaikoura.
Together with warning lights and signage on the approaches to the bridge, the equipment is designed to alert motorists immediately in the event of a dam-burst upstream.

A similar alert system has also been installed on the Ote Makura bridge on State Highway 1 in Goose Bay, on the south side of Kaikoura.

“The aim of this equipment is to provide an immediate alert to road users and anyone in the riverbed area at that point in the event of a dam-burst,” says Pete Connors, Regional Performance Manager for the NZTA.

The dam monitoring equipment registers any change to the level of the water upstream of the bridge, which activates the flashing light system.

“There is a 150 metre high dam upstream of the state highway bridge at Hapuku formed by an earthquake-generated slip, and this warning system will help to ensure the safety of Kaikoura residents, road crews and others working on the state highway north of the town,” says Connors.

“The system is designed to warn people quickly so that they can get well away from the river and bridge in the event of a dam burst upstream. If the lights are flashing the message is to get well back from the bridges’ approaches as well as off of the bridges themselves.

“If there is a flash flood, there may be delays between when the lights activate and the water actually reaching the bridges, so people need to bear this in mind and heed the warnings,” says Connors.

“We know that a number of other streams along the Kaikoura Coast also have slip dams behind them. We want everyone in or around rivers and bridges in Kaikoura to be on the lookout for changes in water colour. A sudden change to cloudy or dirty water or floating debris should be an alert to get away from the riverbeds or bridges.”

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Stay safe over summer

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) and Automobile Association (AA)has released ways to stay safe on the roads this summer.

According to an announcement on the NZTA website, says motorists should try to stagger their journeys outside of the busiest periods.

They can do this by checking the Transport Agency’s real-time traffic information services for the latest updates on highway conditions.

The NZTA has produced interactive maps showing the busiest routes and times over the Christmas and New Year holidays, these are available here.

“Roads across Bay of Plenty/Waikato are always busy at this time of year as people visit family and friends and there are often incidents that cause delays, but if everyone allows plenty of time for their journey, drives to the conditions and plans ahead before leaving home the worst of the frustrations can be eased,” says Waikato and Bay of Plenty State Highways manager, Niclas Johansson.

The NZTA’s hotspot information is based on previous years travel patterns and are subject to change based on weather or other factors.

“Data from previous years shows state highways will be busy throughout the middle of the day all the way from the 23rd of December to the 4th of January, with some particularly heavy times on individual routes and days,” says Johansson.

According to the AA, 12 people died on New Zealand roads during the holiday period last year and 71 more were seriously injured.

“Don’t ruin your year with a crash,” says AA spokesperson Dylan Thomsen. “People get frazzled in the hotter weather and with extra congestion on the roads. “Their attention can be distracted with the pressures of getting ready for the holiday, tying up loose ends at work, or simply relaxing.

“We all know there are risks when we cut corners. Follow the safety basics and reduce your chance of being in a crash.”

According to a release from the AA, drivers can stay safe by ensuring that they:

· Drive to the conditions
· Stick to a safe speed and following distance
· Always wear your seatbelt
· Keep your focus on driving – cellphones and other distractions should be dealt with on a break
· Don’t drive if you’re tired or affected by alcohol, illegal or prescription drugs
· Top up water, oil and windscreen washer fluid
· Check your tyres have a minimum 1.5cm tread and the right tyre pressure
· Clean windscreens
· Clean exterior lights and check they’re working

“Most crashes are the result of losing control, travelling too fast for the conditions, alcohol and inattention,” says Dylan.
“You might not be the person who makes the mistake, but if everyone in your car is wearing their seatbelt and your driver is alert and keeping a safe following distance, it can make a big difference to what happens in a dangerous situation.

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NZTA staff caught speeding

NZTA employees – including a member of the government agency’s senior leadership team and some managers – have been caught illegally speeding in work cars at least 8,500 times in nine months. (more…)

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