Building our roads of national significance

The Government recently announced that seven roads of national significance were to be prioritised over the next 10 years. HUGH DE LACY and GAVIN RILEY take a closer look at the projects.

Nat_roads_1.jpgPositioning New Zealand at the forefront of the eventual recovery from the global recession is the primary goal of the National-led Government’s roads of national significance policy, says Transport Minister Steven Joyce.

Saving jobs, cushioning the economy against the recession and preparing for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, are all secondary motives behind the need to improve the country’s productivity, Joyce told Contractor.

“We want to see the economy respond and grow rapidly once this recession is over, and we’re taking a whole-of-government approach to it,” he says.

A key to achieving this goal was the designation in March of seven land transport corridors to be given development priority over the next 10 years, backed up by state funding of $10.7 billion.

The seven corridors are:

  • Puhoi to Wellsford on State Highway 1 ($1b-2.2b);
  • Completion of the Auckland Western Ring Route ($1b-$1.5b);
  • Untangling Auckland’s Victoria Park bottleneck ($420m-$490m);
  • The Waikato Expressway on State Highway 1 ($2b-$2.3b);
  • The Tauranga Eastern Motorway on State Highway 2 ($600m-$750m);
  • The Wellington to Levin corridor on State Highway 1 ($1.65b-$2.6b, with a further $200m-$1b to be spent beyond the 10 years);
  • The Christchurch motorway projects ($650m-$800m).

Tolling and the use of public/private partnerships (PPPs) may be among the tools the Government applies to completing the seven projects, but Joyce says no decisions have yet been made on what will be applied to which, though three lend themselves to the tolling option: Wellington’s Transmission Gully – if it gets the go-ahead later this year – the Puhoi-to-Wellsford four-laning and the Tauranga motorway.

“Beyond that we’ll be looking at the possibility of PPPs on the other roads of national significance, though I’d stress that tolling and PPPs don’t necessarily have to go together.” He noted that experience in other countries generated “cautionary tales about PPPs”.

He describes the programme as “challenging” but is confident the contracting industry could meet the demand without precipitating an escalation in pricing. Completing the programme

accelerate the country’s recovery from the recession by improving journey time and reliability, easing severe congestion, boosting the growth potential of areas that are keys to the economy, and improving transport efficiency, road safety and access to markets.

He adds that other roads may be added to the list, a concession that may give some comfort to the likes of Dunedin which protested its Caversham Valley Road on State Highway 1 was also worthy of being designated a road of national significance.

Puhoi to Wellsford
Completion of the Auckland Western Ring Route
Untangling Auckland’s Victoria Park bottleneck
The Waikato Expressway
The Tauranga Eastern Motorway
The Wellington to Levin corridor
The Christchurch motorway projects


Contractor Vol.33  No.5  June 2009
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