Motorists would get four-lane highways from Auckland to Whangarei under a $10 billion National Party policy announced today.
National returned to a familiar theme for its latest election policy, promising to build 10 major highways around the country if it remains in power after September.
One of the new Roads of National Signifcance will run between Wellsford and Whangarei, extending the Puhoi-Wellsford highway which was built under the previous series of major roading projects.
Roads of National Significance are usually four-lane highways, meaning there would be a continuous four-laned road for the entire 160km route between Auckland and Whangarei.
Speaking to reporters in the Hawkes Bay, Prime Minister Bill English said this would “unlock the potential” of the Northland region.
Among the other roading projects is the $1.8 billion East-West Link in Auckland.
Asked whether roading should be prioritised over issues like housing, health and education, English said the roading would support housing around New Zealand.
“More housing needs more roading, more water infrastructure,” he said. The roading projects would allow the Government to “get ahead of the curve on growth”.
National’s seven Roads of National Significance are either complete or being constructed, and Transport Minister Simon Bridges said it was time for “a new generation of nation-building projects”.
Bridges said the estimated cost the new projects was $10.5 billion, compared to the $12 billion for the previous seven projects. The projects were chosen because they were New Zealand’s highest-volume roads.
They would be funded through the National Land Transport Fund and private-public partnerships. The initial funding had already been committed to in this year’s Budget.
The seven previous projects were the Puhoi-Wellsford highway, the Western Ring Route in Auckland, the Victoria Park tunnel, the Waikato Expressway, Tauranga’s Eastern Link, Wellington’s Northern Corridor, and motorways around Christchurch.
This announcement came the same day as Labour’s campaign launch, but the PM assured it was not a strategic move.
“We don’t run the country according to the Labour party’s political needs. This has been a long term project, we signaled when we did the first roads of national significance that when we got those completed there would be another generation.”
He also disputed including the Wellsford to Whangerai road was a move to keep NZ First leader Winston Peters on side.
“This isn’t about politics, this is about the long term vision for New Zealand. You can’t just create these major projects on the back of some political debate.
“We’ve spent nine years building the first round of national significant roads, this is the next generation and it’s going to have effects for the next 20 to 30 years.”
The ten roading projects announced today are:
• Wellsford to Whangarei
• East West Link in Auckland
• Cambridge to Tirau
• Piarere to the foot of the Kaimai Range
• Tauranga to Katikati
• Napier to Hastings
• Manawatu Gorge
• Levin to Sanson
• Christchurch Northern Motorway
• Christchurch to Ashburton
Source : New Zealand Herald